Is lowering the voting age a partisan power grab?
No! The effort to lower the voting age transcends party lines. The purpose of the effort is to invigorate our democracy by fostering active and engaged citizens, regardless of their political identity. A more lively political discourse- in classrooms and in the broader public sphere- can stimulate ideas from across the political spectrum. The effort to lower the voting age is based on increasing participation in democracy, not promoting one ideology.
Not many people vote at the age of 18, so what would lowering the voting age accomplish?
By lowering the voting age to 16, we aspire to lower the levels of voting apathy. There are studies that show that people develop habits at a young age, which is why for example, research shows that learning a language is a habit and children are able to pick up on it quicker. By lowering the voting age, we are using the same psychological science, but for the purposes of removing the issues that are detrimental to our democracy. In addition, there were studies done after Austria lowered their voting age to 16, which found that the first-time voting boost is stronger when the voting age is at 16 or 17, resulting in higher youth turnout in the long term. Moreover, young people are interested and aware of the political process. In 2013, when Takoma Park, Maryland, lowered its voting age to 16, registered voters under 18 had a turnout rate four times higher than voters over 18. Voters in the age range of 16 to 17 had a higher turnout rate than older voters under age 30 in Norway’s 2011 elections- proving that lowering the voting age accomplishes the idea of instilling the habit of voting in young people.
If we lower the voting age to 16, why not to 14? Or any age lower?
When it comes to lowering the voting age in Michigan to 16 (and not lower), it’s because our goal is to encourage youth to vote at least once before they turn 18, and to instill the habit of voting from a young age. For example, research shows that young children can learn a new language faster than adults can. This is because of the brain elasticity and the rapid neural information that young children possess, making them learn languages more quickly. Similarly, young adults can develop voting as a habit much more efficiently and quicker than adults. We are using the same logic and science to strengthen our democracy by building a generation of engaged voters. By lowering the voting age to 16, most young adults in Michigan will have the opportunity, should they choose it, to vote at least once and build that habit before they leave for a busy life in college.
Why should 16 and 17-year-olds be allowed to vote if they aren't legally permitted to drink?
16 and 17-year-olds are different from adults, cognition-wise. They do not have the same levels of hot cognition (hot cognition is cognition colored by emotion) that would affect drinking. However, they have the same levels of cold cognition (this is usually what we think about: attention, memory, everyday things. Voting in local elections requires the same levels of cold cognition. Also, having a single age at which you can do everything (drinking, driving, working, voting, etc.) goes against developmental science.
Won't 16 and 17-year-olds just copy their parents' votes?
No! This claim is reminiscent of arguments made by opponents of women’s suffrage, who feared women would copy their husband’s vote. The argument is not a legitimate reason to deny someone the right to vote, and, in the case of women’s voting, has been debunked as many married couples are increasingly voting for different candidates. Data from the 2014 Scottish independence referendum also suggests this claim is false. A survey conducted prior to the referendum found that over 40% of young people had different voting intentions than a parent interviewed. Young people demonstrate and express political ideologies independent from those of their parents.
Shouldn't the voting age be related to the legal age of adulthood?
16-year-olds play an important role in our society. In most states they can work without any restrictions on hours, pay taxes, drive, and in some cases be tried for crimes as adults. The legal age of consent in many places is 16, and the compulsory school attendance age ends at 16 in many states. The legal definition of linking adulthood to the age of 18 should not affect voter eligibility. It is also important to emphasize that our efforts are only to lower the voting age to 16. All other legal age limits should be set in accordance to what is best for each individual issue. Our country has set the driving age, in most states, at 16, and the drinking age at 21. Each should be considered on its own merits. For this specific issue, the voting age should be lowered to 16.
16 and 17-year-olds haven't even graduated high school, wouldn't that make them uneducated/ bad voters?
In an examination done by the Department of Methods in the Social Sciences, University of Vienna, the quality of votes cast by people under 18 by comparing how well their votes aligned with their stated values were examined. Voters of the ages of 16 and 17 were found to have made decisions that were “more congruent with party positions” resulting in the researchers to conclude that “lowering the voting age does not appear to have a negative impact on input legitimacy and the quality of democratic decisions.” Additionally, Michigan high schools require all students to take a civic education course to graduate high school, and the majority of high school students take this course in their 10th and 11th grades: when they are 15, 16, and 17.
How can I be a part of this organization without being currently involved and active in politics?
If you are an individual who is not interested in being a part of the political side of Vote16, we recommend taking a look into the marketing department, whose responsibilities are geared towards spreading information about our organization and cause.
What are the different departments I can join?
We have 3 departments: the Legislative department, the Grassroots department, and the Marketing department. Our departments are divided into teams. Each of our teams has a different purpose and goal to accomplish in order to do their part in fulfilling the overall goal/mission of our organization.
How will joining this organization benefit me as an individual?
Joining this organization will allow you to acquire teamwork and public speaking skills. If you join our Grassroots or Legislative team, you will experience a glimpse into politics as you reach out to additional organizations and talk to important leaders in the movement, including state-level politicians. Being a part of our marketing team would allow you to not only improve on your creativity and tech skills but also increase the number of relationships that can be made with people dedicated to building a better democracy. Joining this organization will allow you as an individual to have your voice heard, as you fight to lower the voting age to 16 in local elections!
What if I am unsure of which department and team to join?
To help you decide which area of work to join, visit our “What Works for You” section, located on the volunteer page!
How much of our time will be devoted to the organization?
On average, you would be putting in 2-4 hours into the organization per week. However, this number depends on how much time you would like to devote to this cause, what team you join, and how involved you would like to be. We are extremely flexible and considerate of your time!