50 years ago, in the midst of the Vietnam war and massive student protests across the country, America decided it was unfair that an 18 year-old could be drafted but couldn't vote -- resulting in the 26th Amendment to the Constitution in 1971.

Now there is talk of lowering the voting age to 16.  My opinion - YIKES!

How has the 18-24 vote been working out & turning out?

Wikipedia puts it this way: " Ever since 18-year-olds were given the right to vote in 1972, youth have been under represented at the polls.  In 1976, one of the first elections in which 18-year-olds were able to vote, 18-24 year-olds made up 18 percent of all eligible voters in America, but only 13 percent actually voted - an under-representation of one-third....Seven out of ten young people…did not vote in the 1996 presidential election… 20 percent below the general turnout....during the competitive presidential race of 2000, 36 percent of youth turned out to vote and in 2004, the "banner year in the history of youth voting," 47 percent of the American youth voted.....in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election, the number of youth voters tripled and even quadrupled in some states compared to the 2004 elections."

So the vote would appear to be the gift that keeps on not giving while being unappreciated. Still, in a closely divided country, even a poor turnout of youth vote could make a difference.

Last November, after months of consideration, the Washington, D.C. Council voted to take a little more time to look at a piece of legislation that could give 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote.

WTOP reports that "the original bill — introduced by Council member Charles Allen and co-sponsored by six other members — would follow in the footsteps of such cities as Maryland’s Takoma Park and Hyattsville that allow for younger voters on local elections ...but the D.C. bill would take things one step further by allowing those minors to vote for federal offices such as president."

​Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is on record as being in favor of changing the voting age to 16 telling CSPAN, " myself personally — I’m not speaking for my caucus, I myself have always been for lowering the voter —  the voting age to 16. I think it’s really important to capture kids when they’re in high school, when they’re interested in all of this, when they’re learning about government to be able to vote."

"Capture the kids", nice thought Nancy.  As in - take advantage of youthful idealism before it's tempered by maturity and some real world life experience.  Younger voters tend to vote democrat, so why not "capture" them in 10th grade!!  BAD Idea.

A PBS report report outlines some of the arguments put forth by supporters and critics.

IN FAVOR -"16-year-olds should have a stake in laws which affect them, such as education policy; research suggests that a strong predictor for voting habits is a record of previous voting; and as student activists around the country have demonstrated, many teenagers, “have very well thought out positions"

AGAINST - "16-year-olds aren’t mature enough or don’t have enough life experience...the arguments for lowering the voting age to 18 don’t entirely translate to lowering it to 16-year-olds, who in most cases are still legally required to attend school and generally depend on parental support."

Teen supporters say they can handle the responsibility noting that some teens drive, work, pay taxes and care for family members.

But what does Science say?  "Although the transition from child to adult is traditionally marked at 18, in fact, crucial neurological changes are now still happening into the mid-20s. Beatriz Luna, professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh believes that putting off responsibilities such as marriage, a career or parenthood, encourages the brain to stay in a state of adolescence.  Consequently teenagers are no longer grown-ups at 18. “It’s probably closer to 25,” said Prof Luna."

We'll wrap this up this way.  While I'm sure there are some really squared away 16 and 17 year old kids out there, I am also sure there aren't enough of them mature enough, informed enough and forward thinking enough with which to trust the political future of the country.


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