Monday, August 28, 2006

Should kids vote?

Hey, girls. Our September/October 2006 issue, "Politics and Leaders" is just about to hit the news-stands. Our Voice Box question asks whether kids should be allowed to vote. We'd love to get lots of responses to this question so that we can include the answers in our January/February "Letter to Congress" issue. But in order to do that, we need your responses by September 6th! So let us know what you think. Send your opinions to and include your complete name, age, and address. See below for a copy of the full Voice Box, written by Emily C.

Not long ago, several groups in the U.S. fought for the right to vote. Women couldn’t vote until 1920. Native Americans couldn’t vote until 1924, and then only in some states. And until Congress passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965, many African Americans couldn’t vote because they couldn’t pass the required literacy tests (which were often rigged) or pay poll taxes. During the Vietnam War, 18-year-olds claimed they were old enough to vote if they were old enough to fight. Congress agreed, and in 1971, they changed the legal voting age from 21 to 18. Some people think the voting age should be lowered again. They argue that letting young people vote will decrease voter apathy.

California Senator John Vasconcellos recently proposed an amendment that would give 16-year-olds a half vote and 14-year-olds a quarter vote in California elections. Iowa, Washington, Maine, Texas, and Minnesota also have considered lowering the voting age.

Opponents of the change say 16-year-olds aren’t mature enough to vote. They point out that teenagers’ judgment hasn’t fully developed yet and they might be too easily persuaded by political candidates, parents, and teachers. But those in favor of lowering the voting age say that because teenagers study current events, politics, and government in school, they know just as much as most adults.

Some people also say that since teenagers often hold part-time jobs and pay taxes, they should be allowed to vote.

What do YOU think?
1. At what age should people be allowed to vote? Why?
2. Should kids’ votes count as full votes or partial votes?
3. Would you vote in national elections if you could? Why or why not?
4. Do you think politicians would treat young people differently if teenagers could vote?

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