FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Disenfranchised Youth

You are sixteen. You can legally work, drive a motor vehicle and with parental consent get married in most states. Why can’t you legally vote?

Good question, and one that supporters for dropping the voting age from eighteen to sixteen will be asking politicians more and more. Much has been made of the youth vote this year amid evidence that more young people are turning out to vote in the primaries than ever before. Let’s take it to the next step.

I argued for the voting age drop from twenty one to eighteen back in the Sixties before it finally happened in 1971 with the ratification of the Twenty Sixth Amendment to our Constitution. The absence of a vibrant civic culture inside and outside our schools drained away much of the potential of this electoral liberation for youngsters. Their turnout was lower than older adults.

Sixteen year olds are likely to be more excited. They are studying and learning about the country and the world in high school. They’re still at home and can bring their discussions to their parents, who may turnout at the polls more as a result.

Fifteen year old Danielle Charette, writing last January in the Hartford Courant says: “Consumed in the distraction of their first semester at college, many eligible voters fail to arrange for absentee ballots. Of course, if annual voting became more habitual starting in high school, reading up on the candidates and voting while away from home wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary.”

Moreover, social studies teachers in high school would be keener on non-partisan class analyses of candidates if their students were able to vote.

Ms. Charette made another telling point. Sixteen year olds who also work pay taxes but they have no vote. This is “taxation without representation,” she exclaimed.

Austria lowered its voting age to 16 last year, prompting similar proposals by New Zealand legislators. One Swiss Canton (Glarus) lowered the voting age to participate in local and cantonal elections to 16 in 2007. British member of Parliament, Sarah McCarthy-Fry expects a debate on the 16 year old vote issue soon in the House of Commons.

Austrian Social Democrat Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer said that lowering the voting age was a “challenge to Austria’s school system” in the field of political education. While New Zealand MP, Sue Bradford ties this voting reform in her proposed legislation with making civics education compulsory in high school to enhance students’ understanding of the political system.

Bills in Minnesota and Michigan have been introduced to lower the voting age. Their rationale is to give a “real opportunity for young people to vote on something that affects their daily lives,” according to Sen. Sandy Pappas of St. Paul.

Now it’s time to hear from these young Americans. They can exchange and spread words faster and cheaper than any generation in history – what with YouTube, MySpace and Facebook communications.

Here is some advice to them: First don’t just make it a matter of your voting right as “citizens now,” not citizens in waiting. Recognize your responsibilities and duties of engaged citizenship.

Second, raise some compelling changes and redirections that will improve life in America especially for you and generally for all Americans. You know lots of them. Just ask yourself, as you shop, study, work, play, breathe the air and drink the water, and watch the TV news, what kind of country do you want to see in the coming months and years?

To jumpstart the 16 year old voting movement, youngsters need to start jumping. Needed are rallies, marches, and personal group visits to your members of Congress and state legislatures at their local offices, especially when the lawmakers are not in session and are back in their home communities.

Don’t over rely on the Internet. The impact from showing up in person is far greater.

I’ll be talking up the sixteen year old vote. But it will only become a reality if a teenage political revolution makes it happen.

RALPH NADER is running for president as an independent.

Your Ad Here

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

September 25, 2018
Kenneth Surin
Fact-Finding Labour’s “Anti-Semitism” Crisis
Charles Pierson
Destroying Yemen as Humanely as Possible
James Rothenberg
Why Not Socialism?
Patrick Cockburn
How Putin Came Out on Top in Syria
John Grant
“Awesome Uncontrollable Male Passion” Meets Its Match
Guy Horton
Burma: Complicity With Evil?
Steve Stallone
Jujitsu Comms
William Blum
Bombing Libya: the Origins of Europe’s Immigration Crisis
John Feffer
There’s a New Crash Coming
Martha Pskowski
“The Emergency Isn’t Over”: the Homeless Commemorate a Year Since the Mexico City Earthquake
Fred Baumgarten
Ten Ways of Looking at Civility
Dean Baker
The Great Financial Crisis: Bernanke and the Bubble
Binoy Kampmark
Parasitic and Irrelevant: The University Vice Chancellor
September 24, 2018
Jonathan Cook
Hiding in Plain Sight: Why We Cannot See the System Destroying Us
Gary Leupp
All the Good News (Ignored by the Trump-Obsessed Media)
Robert Fisk
I Don’t See How a Palestinian State Can Ever Happen
Barry Brown
Pot as Political Speech
Lara Merling
Puerto Rico’s Colonial Legacy and Its Continuing Economic Troubles
Patrick Cockburn
Iraq’s Prime Ministers Come and Go, But the Stalemate Remains
William Blum
The New Iraq WMD: Russian Interference in US Elections
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Snoopers’ Charter Has Been Dealt a Serious Blow
Joseph Matten
Why Did Global Economic Performance Deteriorate in the 1970s?
Zhivko Illeieff
The Millennial Label: Distinguishing Facts from Fiction
Thomas Hon Wing Polin – Gerry Brown
Xinjiang : The New Great Game
Binoy Kampmark
Casting Kavanaugh: The Trump Supreme Court Drama
Max Wilbert
Blue Angels: the Naked Face of Empire
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will There Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail