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PRO: Teens affected by election results, deserve right to vote

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. --  My fellow Americans, many youth rights groups have proposed lowering the voting age to 16, for various reasons. Here you will find a brief overview of their arguments:

First, having the voting age any higher than 16 is a direct violation of what should be the minor's rights. Our nation was founded on the ideal that all humans were created equal. Withholding voting rights from a specific group of citizens is grossly in conflict with this core piece of the American value system. It is no less abhorrent to deny people rights based on age than race.

Furthermore, the denial of voting rights for 16-17 year olds leads to an entire demographic being unrepresented in the state and nation's decisions. Young Americans are seriously affected by the laws and legislation passed by those in power, and as such, they should have a say in who makes those decisions for them. Anyone over the age of 16 can drive a car and legally join the workforce. Both of these activities are highly regulated by strict laws passed by elected officials.

For example, consider gas and income taxes. Both are applied to teens who drive and receive wages for honest work, so teens experience "taxation without representation," the very calling cry which rallied Colonialists to fend off their British oppressors during the Revolutionary War.

Opposition to lowering the voting age often argues that since the government's decisions affect all people in the country, then the above point is moot, but that is not so. By age 16, most young Americans have held a job, spent 10 or so years in school and formed some basic political opinions, thereby making 16 the appropriate age for voting rights to be activated.

Additionally, if 16-17 year olds are allowed to vote, those who choose to exercise that right would undoubtedly take more interest in the political spectrum. Some adults argue that a person under the age of 18 lacks the enthusiasm in politics to take them seriously and intelligently make a decision based on the candidate's political platform. This is inaccurate.

As John Holt, a young rights theorist says, "[If teens] think their choices and decisions make a differences to them in their own lives, they will have every reason to try to choose and decide more wisely. But if what they think makes no difference, why bother to think?"

We live in a world full of political tension, with the deficit growing larger, two wars being waged (and perhaps more on the horizon), a massive unemployment rate and several moral issues being decided upon by the legislature, including abortion and gay rights. Based on this and the arguments above, 16 year olds should undoubtedly have the right to vote and affect the elections of officials who will make decisions that will have a massive impact on our society.


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