Should 17-year-olds be allowed to vote? A teenager registers to vote. (Thinkstock)
Should 17-year-olds be allowed to vote?
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A proposal that Utah lawmakers will consider could see the state join 20 others to allow 17-year-olds to vote in June primary elections if they'll turn 18 by the general election in November.
 
Salt Lake City Democratic state Rep. Joel Briscoe, a former high school civics teacher, said he hopes his proposal will help boost voter participation and get more young people engaged.
 
Briscoe said if someone will be 18 and eligible to vote in November, "Why not get them involved in the primary election? Why not get them involved even earlier that year and get them more pumped for what's going to happen in November?"
 
Utah primary elections are held the fourth Tuesday in June.
 
Briscoe said research has shown that the earlier people cast their first vote, the more likely they will be to continue voting.
 
The Utah lieutenant governor's office, which oversees elections, has not studied the proposal, according to state elections director Mark Thomas.
 
So far, 20 states allow 17-year-olds to vote in primaries and caucuses, according to FairVote, a Maryland-based election reform group that advocates for the idea.
 
Some states have passed laws lowering the primary voting age and in others, state political parties have been allowed to change their party rules to allow 17-year-old participation.
 
Rob Richie, FairVote's executive director, said 17-year-olds in a more structured environment of living with their parents and going to high school may be more likely to take advantage of their right to vote than some 18-year-olds who have moved out into the world and the distractions of college.
 
After a similar law took effect in Illinois in 2014, Chicago election officials reported that 17-year-olds were more likely to vote in that city's primary election than most voters in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
 
Kari Schott, the 17-year-old founder of a Young Democrats club at Jordan High School in Sandy, said she'd take advantage of the lowered primary voting age but isn't sure about her peers.
 
"That would be an amazing opportunity. But knowing my friends and the people at my school, I don't know if it would be as exciting to them," she said. "They aren't as politically active and a lot of them are apathetic to the political process."
 
Schott said despite being a politically active 17-year-old, she isn't always taken seriously by candidates because she can't actually vote for them.
 
Andy Pierucci, a 27-year-old who works with Utah Young Republicans, said he thinks the voting age should be lowered to 16, when teenagers start working and paying taxes.
 
"I think that they should definitely be able to have a say on elected officials that decide where the taxes go," he said.
 
Pierucci said he was politically active as a teenager and helped to knock on doors to build support for candidates.
 
That exposure spurred him to stay politically active as an adult, something he hopes would happen to other teens if they're newly allowed to vote right around the time they start diving into civics classes in school.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why isn't everyone allowed to vote, regardless of their age?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (30)
  • ShawnaWeiser-Ste
    1/21/2016 - 04:51 p.m.

    I don't think at age 17 we fully grasp the political process and what most of the people that are in politics are talking about. I know I'm almost 16 and I have no idea about the government. At 17 you're also immature and don't really care.

  • johnk-mea
    1/22/2016 - 12:53 p.m.

    The age limit is set in place to mark the age that specifies when someone has reached the age of maturity to where they are trusted to make an educated decision when they are voting. It would not make sense for a person that is 12 years of age to be voting for the president. Even though it seems only fair for everyone to be able to be voting for some one that represents you; people under the age of voting do not have the maturity of education to vote for someone running for a position in the government.

  • hunterl-mea
    1/22/2016 - 12:53 p.m.

    The reason I believe the United states makes age limitations on voting, is the lack of knowledge these voters will have. Children who know nothing about politics have no true unbiased opinion on who they want to win. If the United States were to remove all age restrictions, children would end up voting either for random people, or for the person their teacher, parents, or other role model glorified. In conclusion, I truly don't see a need for people under the age of 16 to vote, because they are likely to obscure the results of the polls.

  • christopherm-mea
    1/22/2016 - 12:56 p.m.

    Everyone isn't allowed to vote due to a number of reasons. You must be a registered United States citizen to be eligible to vote, and some states also require proof of identification. In the event that an individual possesses no form of personal identification, they would be unable to vote in these states. This system is in place to attempt to regulate the quality of voters. If everyone were allowed to vote in the United States, the likelihood of a concerning amount of ill-informed voters would be considerably higher. Also, it aids in preventing illegal aliens from playing a part in the political system without becoming naturalized.

  • michaelg-mea
    1/22/2016 - 12:56 p.m.

    Everyone isn't allowed to vote because not everyone is given the right to vote due to ineligibility. If you are an illegal alien or immigrant then you should not be able to be allowed to vote for a representative because that right is reserved for legal citizens. Next, those who are either criminals or deemed mentally insane should not be allowed to vote as well. Criminals give up that right when the commit the crime and the mentally insane cannot effectively participate in society and make decisions for a representative. If everyone was allowed to vote, then you'd have candidates reaching out to people outside our country to vote as well and trying to win elections that way instead of winning them for the people by the people.

  • marissay-mea
    1/22/2016 - 12:57 p.m.

    Everyone might not be able to vote because you need people that will make mature and wise decisions during the voting process. Voting is a serious topic and controls how government works.If you let everyone vote, you would have young children voting on issues that they may not understand completely. Having an age limit on the voting process allows people to mature. It also allows for the person/people to figure out what they believe is right and wrong in society or the government. When the time comes to vote, the people will pick the right candidate that fits their beliefs and the right candidate that they think will get the job done.

  • savannahv-mea
    1/22/2016 - 12:57 p.m.

    Not everyone is allowed to vote because we want to keep the elections as realistic and productive as possible. For example, asking a twelve year old who does not have a job, does not pay taxes, and does not understand a single thing about politics should not be allowed to vote. Children who haven't matured yet will vote for an official based on their peers or other factors rather than considering who would be best for our country. People who are 18, or possibly 17, have more of a understand of politics and what exactly they need to look for in a new leader. Their votes most likely will be taken more seriously and be a grater input than someone's vote who is at a younger age. I am 18 and do not know as much as I should about politics. I know that I need make the effort to become more knowledgeable before deciding the future for my country when I cast my vote in the next election. Maturity and knowledge is needed when voting for something so major and people at a younger age most likely do not have either one of those things.

  • whitneyb-mea
    1/22/2016 - 12:57 p.m.

    Not everyone is allowed to vote regardless of age because someone as young as twelve really hasn't been educated enough in the political system and may not make a educated decision. Most kids start to learn and understand politics in the beginning of high school with american history and civics classes to start them off on gaining their own political views and knowledge. someone who hasn't yet taken these classes wouldn't be knowledgeable enough to cast an educated vote, which could skew the votes and make the voting process even more difficult.

  • andrear-mea
    1/22/2016 - 12:57 p.m.

    Everyone isn't allowed to vote, regardless of their age because, some people don't know about political issues or don't have political views at all. Also some people may not be up to par mentally to handle voting or to even understand who or what they are voting for. Like me I don't have a preferred political view at all; to be honest I do not know much about politics or what happens. I don't have an interest in it really.

  • gavinh-mea
    1/22/2016 - 12:58 p.m.

    Not everyone is allowed to vote, regardless of their age, due to the voter license registration process and laws enforcing it. You have to be a legal US citizen with a voter ID to legally vote in the US.

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