Lowering voting age benefits everyone

Alex Toth, Co-Editor in Chief

In 1971 during the heart of the Vietnam War, The Twenty-sixth Amendment was passed to lower the voting age from 21 to 18. The age was changed in response to the reaction to the amount of 18 year-olds putting their lives on the line for their country but not being able to have a say as to what goes on in political matters they were fighting to protect.

It’s easy to see a similar trend now; more and more prominent political issues are affecting the younger generation, especially those of us coming up on adulthood. Reproductive rights, gun laws, health care and environmental change–all issues that primarily affect the nation’s youth–are all reasons to lower the voting age to 16.

Pushing this agenda forward, Nebraska State Senator Anna Wishart plans on introducing an amendment lowering the voting age on local and state levels to 16. In an Omaha World-Herald article on Oct. 24, Wishart said she hopes to get voters engaged at a younger age, saying, “I think we do ourselves a disservice by not starting that habit at 16.”

Seeing that thousands of walkouts, protests, and demonstrations are led and attended by youth under the age of 20, it’s easy to counter the argument that teenagers don’t care or know enough about politics to be able to vote effectively. In the age of the internet it’s easier than ever for youth to–if looking in the right places–get unbiased information on candidate policies and platforms.

A main focus of smaller city governments, like Bellevue, is to get the youth more involved and connected with their community, and a lower voting age would benefit both parties greatly. While many teenagers don’t seem to want to stay in their hometown past the age of 18, input on local politics creates a sense that one belongs and has value within their community, thus more incentive to return after college.

Sixteen also serves as a fair age to have input on school board elections to make an informed decision while knowing what’s best for the school system. Having been through ten years of school and knowing what issues are relevant within the district give youth voters a clearer view of what needs to change.

School shootings always spark a debate surrounding gun control and what needs to be done to prevent such tragedies. Giving teenagers a say in issues like school safety is essential in assuring a future that’s safe not only for us teenagers, but for generations to come.

Giving a younger group of the population may seem scary to older voters worried about the integrity of the not-at-all flawed political system, even on a local level, but it’s much more than getting a younger perspective in elections. The youth having a say in what goes on in their future is important to incite progress in the country, and giving them a place within local politics creates more beneficial communities for everyone.