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Should the U.S. Lower the Voting Age?

Miranda Rosenberg. (Photo: Courtesy of Miranda Rosenberg)

Miranda Rosenberg is just like many other 16-year-olds. She likes Harry Potter, enjoys her high school psychology class, and pays taxes. But Miranda wants to do one more thing: vote.

Currently, only people ages 18 and older are allowed to vote in elections. Miranda thinks that's unfair. She has to pay taxes, so why can't she vote?

A little over a year ago, Miranda decided she would try to get the voting age lowered in Florida, her home state. Although some people agree with Miranda, many think that 16- and 17-year-olds are not mature enough to vote.

"Why does someone become mature the day they turn 18?" Miranda asked.

Miranda thinks that people who are interested in politics are the ones who vote, no matter how old they are. Some adults don't vote because they aren't interested in politics, while some 16-year-olds might vote because they are interested in politics.

Some people who oppose Miranda's initiative say that the 18-24 age group has the lowest percentage of voters. They believe that fact proves that 16- and 17-year-olds are not as likely to vote. However, that might not be the case, says Miranda. In 1996, the state of Lower Saxony in Germany lowered its voting age to 16 for local elections. More 16- and 17-year-olds turned out to vote in the election than people ages 18-24.

Miranda outside the Florida state capitol in Tallahassee. (Photo: Courtesy of Miranda Rosenberg)

Miranda believes that 16- and 17-year-olds are at the perfect age to start voting because they can talk about issues at home and at school. She took a government class in high school and her family's kitchen TV is always tuned in to CNN. "I've been surrounded by politics my whole life," she said.

She believes it's more difficult to have 18-year-olds vote because they are at college and voting is not necessarily the first thing on their minds. Also, many teens attend college out of state and have to send absentee ballots, which is more work than just going to the voting booth.

Miranda's goal isn't an easy one. For the issue to be brought before the Florida Supreme Court, Miranda must collect 489,000 signatures from registered voters in Florida. She's collected a few thousand since she started her quest about a year ago, but admits that it's a difficult task.

"I'm a 16-year-old trying to balance school and activities," she said.

Miranda isn't giving up. She believes her collection of signatures brings awareness to issues that are important to young people, such as the environment and education.

"The publicity is more important than lowering the voting age," she said.

In fact, many politicians have seen Miranda's ambition and admitted that they should address more issues that affect young people. She spoke to the Broward County Democratic Society and to a political science class at a local community college.

Miranda is undecided about her future plans, but for now she enjoys talking to her friends and just "being a normal teen."

What do you think? Should the U.S. lower the voting age? Vote Now!

To read more about Miranda's cause, visit www.voteat16.com .

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top 10 reasons to lower the voting age 16

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top 10 reasons to lower the voting age 16 Scholastic News Online is a free resource with breaking news and highlights from the print magazine. Available for grades 1-6, Scholastic News magazine brings high-interest current events and nonfiction to millions of classrooms each week. Additionally, our subscribers have FREE access to Scholastic...