Just recently, Oregon legislation has declared the possibility of lowering the voting age from 18 to now 16 years of age. This would make Oregon the first state in the nation to lower the voting age. The proposal has caused quite the stir around the state, as many people, including teens believe that sixteen is too young to properly understand the voting process, more so its political responsibility.
This bill is backed by legislators, including Sen. Shemia Fagan, D-Portland and by non-profit organization, The Bus Project, which encourages volunteer civic activism in the state.
Fagan held a press conference at the Capitol, along with a number of high school students to introduce the legislation. Fagan claims, “Sixteen-year olds are subject to our criminal justice system. They are couchsurfing with friends while their families experience homelessness and they’re begging us to take action to protect their future”. She also states, -”younger Oregonians should have a chance to participate in the ballot — about decisions that affect their homes, their clean air, their schools and, as we’ve seen, their very lives”. Following Fagan’s proclaim, students also spoke out at the event. Seventeen- year old South Salem High School Senior, Maria Torres says, “We need to be able to take our work to the ballot and protect the policies we’re working so hard to pass, and we deserve to have a voice”. Many of the teens present stated that they want to be able to vote on Election day.
I, personally as a proud sixteen- year old American, strongly oppose to allowing my class to have the privilege to vote as of right now. Though I do believe young teens should have a strong voice in politics, I also believe that voting so young would be too risky for our political system. Voting comes with major responsibility and most importantly, knowledge of the policies and candidates, which unfortunately, many teens lack.
The idea alone of people my age holding a ballot in their hands and legally voting, is like an absolute nightmare to me. Although I may sound quite dramatic, I must also recognize the fact that many teens could barely pass a U.S. citizenship test if it was given to them. Adolescents need to be informed, educated, and knowledgeable, before legislators even think for one moment lowering the voting age to sixteen. There are major issues that should be changed within our state and country that clearly cannot be improved without cognizance and savoir faire (ability to act and speak appropriately in social situations). Sadly, I can say that certain changes would not be able to develop into something better with ignorant sixteen- year olds having slight control over them.
An argument rose over radio station’s, “The Bull” Facebook page, once they posted an article about the conference with Governor Kate Brown and high school students in favor of lowering the voting age. Though Brown seemed to be way too thrilled with lowering the age, literally all the commenters could not disagree more! One user stated, “No, I do not think that is a good idea. While I’m sure that there are some 16 year olds mature and wise beyond their years, that’s not the case for all of them. If the political members of our state wish them to vote, they should also allow or expect them to work, pay taxes, smoke, drink, run for political office, get married, have children, or God forbid purchase a firearm.”, another person said, “Nope can’t fight in war, drink alcohol, buy cigarettes etc, no, no and no. You’re a kid still and have many years of experience to gain. Voting should be after 21 or 25, maybe 30, before some people grow up and make adult decisions that will affect our country again. [Expletive] no!”.
“Voting should be after 21 or 25, maybe 30, before some people grow up and make adult decisions that will affect our country again. [Expletive] no!”.
Despite the fact that our Governor and quite an amount of state legislators are urging for the change in voting age, many Oregonians and I plead to our great state to not allow this to happen. However, if you are a knowledgeable sixteen-year old and are looking to vote when you are eighteen, you are legally allowed to register to vote, just go to sos.oregon.gov/voting or www.vote.org, you must have either a driver’s permit or license to be eligible to register. Once you register, it’s like one step closer to becoming an adult and proud civilian.