I want the voting age to stay at 18

Steven Barnum, News editor

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There’s been an increasing number of people who support lowering the voting age to 16, but I don’t think that would be appropriate.

I don’t think there’s any universal age where we can guarantee that everyone in that group is mature and responsible enough to vote. Some people grow up fast and would take a responsibility to vote seriously and age isn’t the only factor that determines maturity; however, we do know that we’re more likely to make unwise decisions at ages as young as 16.

A lot of states, Illinois included, will make buying tobacco products illegal for anybody less than 21 years old. While I think this is mainly implemented to keep these products out of the hands of younger friends in high schools, it also adds merit to the argument that most people don’t fully develop until they are well into their 20s.

This is also taken into account when it comes to the legal age to consume alcohol in the United States. You have to be 21, with a couple of caveats, which shows that the government doesn’t put a lot of trust into 18-year-olds ability to drink responsibly.

Additionally, we can’t gamble until we’re 21 and most places don’t even let you rent a car until you are 25 years old. So, if the government doesn’t trust you to drink or gamble or rent a car at 18, then I don’t think that they should be striving to let you vote at an even younger age.

Currently, states allow you to vote in primaries of major elections at 17 years old as long as you turn 18 years old when the general election rolls around. I think that this is a fair compromise as a way to get younger groups involved and engaged. This way, the government is recognizing that kids in this age group should have some sort of contribution since they are preparing to become legal adults and invest in their future.

But I think that the real issue here is that we consider people adults once they hit 18 years old. With the exception of joining the military, there are very few additional freedoms that we get once we turn 18. I never viewed myself as an adult until I was 21, and even then I had a hard time making myself out to be “mature.”

The only reason why we start calling people adults at 18 or 19 or 20 years old is because they are out of high school and their traditional education is finished. Whether they go to college or not, they typically make life decisions that they wouldn’t have been able to make at 16 or 17 years old. If our kindergarten through 12th grade education typically ended at 20, then I think that’s when society would consider us adults.

Personally, I wouldn’t be upset if 16-year-olds were able to vote, but based on the decisions that the government has made regarding our freedom, it would be an inconsistent change.

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