Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Keep your Eye on

A proposal by the NYRA on to lower the voting age in the United States to 16 has qualified for a second round of voting. When that happens, be sure to cast your vote and join the discussion.

Lower the voting age to 16.

In 2007, Austria became the first of the world's officially categorized "leading democracies" to allow 16-year-olds to vote. Brazil, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man have all lowered their voting ages to 16 as well. If America wants to be the freest nation in the world for the most cxtizens, we need to update suffrage and allow 16-year-olds to choose the president as well.

16-year-olds are old enough to get a job and therefore to have taxable income, but can not vote to prevent their tax money from being used to fight oil wars or fund police departments that practice racial profiling.

When people first tried to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 during the Vietnam War, many objected that 18-year-olds who weren't mature enough to make decisions of whom to vote for would ruin the country. The voting age was lowered to 18 and that didn't happen. And it won't happen this time either!

And after the voting age was lowered, 18-year-olds were suddenly able to sign contracts, marry without their parents' permission and get polled by polling organizations who cared what they thought. If the voting age were lowered to 16, several basic rights would follow for 16-year-olds. They may even be given the right to medical consent by the states, which is a human right, not an "adult right".

The enthusiasm of 16- and 17-year-olds for Barack Obama during the 2008 election season, even while their parents doted over Hillary Clinton, should put to rest once and for all the myth that 16-year-olds will vote like their parents.

16-year-olds are now tried as adults for the crimes they commit, but the right to have a say in what laws they will have to obey has for too long been denied because of lazy, impressionistic and unscientific generalizations about "maturity". Follow the lead of Austria and grant the suffrage that will be seen as progress just as suffrage for African-Americans, Native Americans, women and 18-to-20-year-olds were.

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