Being 16 and Voting

Alexis Perales, Writer

Turning sixteen is an incredible milestone for many Americans. Teens can now get jobs, drive cars, and can even emancipate yourself from your parents. Essentially, you begin to create your own identity as you become more aware of the complex world around you. These are all the components of growing up and becoming more involved with society.

So does this give us the right to vote now? To be able to go out and vote for a better future for yourself (after these pieces of legislation will affect  you)? I say no. I say, I see your voting at 16 card, and I want to deal you something better: a voting at 17 card.


Age 17 is the year of seniors, it’s the year most students take Government and Economics. Some might say, “Hey it’s 17, just wait a year.” Yet, some things can’t wait. If you have a strong opinion about something you should be able to voice them. I think there’s a good reason why 17 is a good age. We need voters from high school. Our government is fighting for education, but they haven’t been in school for a while now. They’re not used to the constant lock down drills where you wonder if it’s a drill or not. Nor are they accustomed to the stress of wondering if you’re going to be able to pay to attend a grossly, overpriced college. Recently, there was a lock down and the first thing my teacher informs us is how we should defend ourselves, he told us to grab something we can throw or even use our phones. I came here for an education. I did not come here for a lesson in protecting myself and I’m sure millions of other high school students would agree with me.


The average voting person is an educated, married person, who is also over the age of 35. Educated people look to help improve their society because they know and understand what’s wrong with it. Married people are more invested in what’s going on in their communities. Older people look for things that are going to benefit them with their future.

“The fact that so few young people vote means that politicians are not likely to pay too much attention to their opinions or to promote policies that will particularly help them,” mentioned George C. Edwards III in “Government in America” textbook. We need representation and we need to start as soon as possible. I say 17 instead of 16 because at 16, you’re learning about U.S. History and most likely don’t know much about the government – unless your family is interested in politics and regularly engages their kids in discussion. Age 17 is when you start to learn about the government and understand it more. With U.S. History still fresh in your mind you’re thinking of ways to improve your future while also not making the same mistakes that our government has made in the past. Overall, the knowledge is fresh in our minds which is an ideal voting time if you ask me.


I get it. This isn’t what we’re used to, and some people might say that young people don’t even care about politics enough. They are wrong. Young people want to be represented and they want their voices to be heard. Extending suffrage to America’s youth is the first step.


“That’s why I’ve done all of this petition stuff and I have my blog because I can’t vote; this is the only shot I’ve got at taking part in my state and what’s going on. This is the way to get my voice heard,” said Madison Kimrey, a 17 year old voting rights activist from North Carolina.