SIXTEEN-YEAR-OLDS CAN CHOOSE where to work, whether to get a driver's license, and (depending on the state) who they want to have sex with or even marry. While the government and their parents might object, they're also making choices about what to watch and listen to and whether to consume drugs and alcohol.
Perhaps it's time we also let them vote.
Under-18s are not allowed to participate in state or national elections anywhere in the United States. A few tiny Maryland communities on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., allow 16-year-olds to vote in local elections, and Berkeley, California, lets 16-year-olds vote for school board seats.
Critics argue teens are too irresponsible, too immature, or too uninformed to make crucial decisions about whether they'd prefer the Democrat or the Republican. One could say the same for many adults, yet the franchise persists. Only 26 percent of those 18 or older in the U.S. can name the three branches of government, according to a 2017 survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center; more than a third of respondents could not name a single right guaranteed by the First Amendment. A 2018 C-SPAN poll found that even though 91 percent of Americans believe the Supreme Court impacts their everyday lives, 52 percent of Americans cannot name a single Supreme Court justice.
Luckily, no one vote matters very much. That won't change if we let 16- and 17-year-olds cast ballots.
This year, lawmakers in Oregon and California introduced bills that would lower the voting age to 16 for state elections...