Should 17-year-olds be allowed to vote? A teenager registers to vote. (Thinkstock)
Should 17-year-olds be allowed to vote?
Lexile

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.  But, they are only eligible if they'll turn 18 by the general election in November.
 
Salt Lake City Democratic state Rep. Joel Briscoe is a former high school civics teacher. He hopes his proposal will help boost voter participation. He wants to 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 oversees elections.  It 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.  This is 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 is FairVote's executive director.  He 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 she 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 is a 27-year-old who works with Utah Young Republicans.  He said he thinks the voting age should be lowered to 16. That is the age when many 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.

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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 (122)
  • victoriak-ver
    1/20/2016 - 08:34 a.m.

    Some people are not emotionally and mentally ready to make a decision without their parents opinions. Also, many younger people are not politically active and are not into politics.

  • summerc-1-bar
    1/20/2016 - 06:49 p.m.

    Not everyone is allowed to vote because they might just not want to, just like Schott's friends, "They aren't as politically active..." she says in paragraph 12. In paragraph 13, it states that, "[Schott is never] taken seriously by candidates because she can't actually vote for them."
    I think the article is interesting because they give a brief overview into the world of politics and about teens.

  • taylorp-1-bar
    1/20/2016 - 08:21 p.m.

    Not everyone is allowed to vote, regardless of their age, because not all of the younger ten where would want to get involved in politics. On paragraph 12, it says, " ' it knowing my friends and the people at my school,I don't know if it would be as exciting to them,' she says. 'They aren't as politically active and a lot of them are apathetic to the political process.' " Teenagers that don't necessarily want to have early voting rights, so there's no need to give it to them. I enjoyed this article because I, being a teenager who will turn 17-18 soon (kind of soon), voting rights affect me too.

  • Brandon1231-YYCA
    1/20/2016 - 09:51 p.m.

    I think having 17 year old girls and boys voting for our government or anything else is weird. I think that having these young people vote will make the votes bigger and harder to choose from when more and more people that are younger are getting the chance to vote for your leaders of America. I hope that they can change the rule back to where only 18 year old people and higher can vote for their leaders. If they change it so that everyone can vote for their leaders, then that will be crazy. If they did that, then I would go to my friends and tell them to not vote for anyone.

  • billiem-1-bar
    1/21/2016 - 08:50 p.m.

    First it's against the law. Second, this law was made because most people under the age of 17 are to immature to make these kind of decisions and wont choose whats best for our country. I liked this article because I think the legal voting age should be lowered as well.

  • lucasd-3-bar
    1/21/2016 - 09:16 p.m.

    Some people are not allowed to vote because they don't know much about politics. Not having any information and randomly voting can hurt the country. This was an interesting article, and I believe 17 year olds should be allowed to vote also.

  • angelinat-3-bar
    1/21/2016 - 11:13 p.m.

    Everyone isn't allowed to vote because not everyone is interested in voting.
    Kari Schott says, "They aren't as politically active and a lot of them are apathetic to the political process." about her friends. This shows that if 17 year-olds were allowed to vote, a lot of them wouldn't care, and wouldn't participate. I was interested in this article because I like to learn about our government. I was surprised by this article because I didn't know that 17 year-olds were allowed to vote in some states.

  • johnl-6-bar
    1/22/2016 - 12:17 a.m.

    When kids are young their not politically active. Second, they don't know how to make decisions for themselves, they probably just agree with there parents. Third, if your at the age of 15, 16, or 17 have too much going on. Most might have a job, maybe you're trying to get into a good college, you most likely don't have the time for staying politically active. I chose this article because the election is coming up and we are learning about the first presidents in Social Studies.

  • blakes-
    1/25/2016 - 09:25 a.m.

    Not everyone can vote or should be able because what if they have a problem or is very immature an don't care who win. So I think they should not allow anyone under 18 to vote. I chooses this topic because its important to know why they don't allow because don't make laws for nothing.

  • williamb-4-bar
    1/25/2016 - 07:00 p.m.

    they dont know if the age will suit there responsibility.

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