Monday, November 06, 2006

Should Kids Vote?

Tomorrow is Election Day--would you vote if you could? New Moon's September/October 2006 "Voice Box" asked readers that very question:

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?

The GEB already chose their favorite answers, which we'll publish in the January/February 2007 issue. But we got a TON of great responses from readers! Here are just a few:

"Not long ago, my class was talking about the election of George W. Bush. It turned out that if we kids had the right to vote, the current president wouldn't be in office. Kids and adults have different opinions. If kids could vote as early as 16, maybe it'd bring better, more responsible presidents into the White House."
-Dina, age 12, Colorado

"I find that there are more irresponsible children out there than not, who would throw away their vote (if they had one) in exchange for a candy bar. But, on the other hand, there are many far more irresponsible adults, and also many responsible children, and so I would be willing to take risk of allowing voters Kindergarten through death if it was up to me. I think it only fair, because children are affected by elections as much, even more, than adults. For example, suppose the Government passed a law for shorter recesses. That, in my opinion, would affect children’s health drastically. If children could vote, however, the government might pass a law for longer recesses, in order to get more votes if they ran for re-election – like the way the gas prices are going down as we near November 7th."
-Sorcha, age 10, California

"I don't think that kids should be able to vote. A 14-year-old probably wouldn't know enough about how exactly each president would affect the nation. Also, a parent could take advantage of the child, by grounding them or punishing them if they didn't vote for a specific person. This would give people with children who could vote more votes than people without children. People might start to have more children so that they could get more say in the presidential election. The elections would become unfair, and would become much more chaotic than they already are. This is why I think kids under 18 should not be able to vote."
-Monica, age 11, Connecticut

"Politics don't just affect adults. They affect everyone, from a teenage girl considering an abortion, to an elementary school student taking a standardized test, to a young family without health insurance. So if the best way to voice our opinions about the kinds of politics that affect our everyday lives is to vote, why is voting limited to people over the age of 18?
I know that not all kids or teens--or even some adults--might understand politics and government well enough to make the 'informed decisions' that voting involves. But I think it would be fair to give those under age 18 who do care about having a say in politics a chance to have that voice. I know that if I could vote in elections (local, state, or national), I would do so without hesitation. As singer/songwriter Ani DiFranco says, we have to understand that 'the personal is political.' If only everyone understood that!"
-Natalia, age 15, Wisconsin

"I think the voting age should be 16 because if you can drive, you are obviously ready for some responsibility. I think people under 16 should vote, but their votes should be counted as partial votes. I think teens’ votes (above age 16) should count as whole votes, because some adults don't know much more than kids about politics.
I would vote if I could, but I know people that wouldn’t. But not everyone has to vote!
I think politicians would change their campaigns if kids could vote, but they shouldn’t. Kids can be very well-informed. The politicians wouldn’t need to sugar-coat everything."
-Sarah, age 13, New Jersey

"I think that the voting age now is fine. People know what they think when they are 18. Kids usually take the opinions of their parents. Kids’ votes should not count in the real election. I will vote in national elections when I am 18 and my opinions are thought out and my own."
-Sarah, age 12, New York

"Voting is something I think is very important, I would like it if 16 year olds could vote. If they could vote there would be more say in whose president and we can let our voices be heard! I also think since we’re a whole person we should get a whole vote, why not? I would love to be able to vote, because I feel it helps us be supportive of our country. I know though, that if I was allowed to vote, the politicians would end up changing their whole campaign to stupid stuff like teen pop stars and fashion. That doesn’t seem right! I don’t care if Paris Hilton is on their t-shirts, it’s what they promise to do for our country that matters! So, do I think teens should vote? Yes! But I don’t think politicians should change their campaigns to suit us!"
-Jessi, age 12, Pennsylvania

"The voting age is a huge issue that can’t be addressed by a simple yes or no answer. For one thing, as I am sure we’ve all realized at some point in time or another, pre-teens and teenagers all mature at different rates, and we all come from different backgrounds that affect our maturity. Giving a 14 year old the right to vote might not always be the best solution. Even 16 and 18 year olds might not be mature enough to shoulder such a responsibility as voting. After all, we are talking about our country’s management. It is also unquestionable that politicians, parents, teachers, and other mentors would treat young people differently. At this time in our lives, we are still learning right from wrong and are highly impressionable. It is even a fact that the decision-making part of our brain is not yet fully developed. So, while we might not be altogether naive, it wouldn’t be hard to alter our votes to suit someone else’s opinion either.
This is why I have come to the conclusion that the best solution to this issue would be a test. Knowledgability in the voting process is key. However, age does not determine maturity, and so, giving this test to only the youngest members of our voting community would be foolish. The test would require the voter to provide the basic facts on a measure, congressmen, or whatever was being voted upon. These questions would have bubble in answers, and the results of the test would lead to a custom ballot suited to the voter’s knowledge.
In addressing exactly what age a voter should be, I believe that best to be left open ended--but not completely. I think the best answer to this question would be that that any young person with a driver’s license should have the right to vote. After all, the fuel economy is affecting everyone else as well as them, and if you’ve passed a test to be out on the country’s roads, you should be able to make decisions about how it’s run as well. "
-Sarah, age 14, California


cole Christopherson said...

people in North America 12 or up should be able to vote. One reason is you dont know what they may do. another reason is they could make education stricter and make you stay in school longer. That is why kids 12 and up should earn the right to vote

Austin Wildenberg said...


Cole Christopherson said...

you should let kids vote because presidents and goviners could make kids really mad. One way they can is they can make school go to summer and make vacation shorter. they could also make less rights for kids. Know you know how kids feel in a election.

Cole Christopherson said...

I think kids should vote. One reason is that the president could make school strictor. He could also make kids stay in school longer.

I also think That kids should have there own rights because they could be reasponsible. another is that the president could make school go in the summer instead of winter.

Those are just some of the reasons that I think kids should vote.

8 year old Boy said...

I think we shouldn't vote because kids can be easily bribed or forced to vote for some president. See, what if a really precarious eligible adult comes along (if the scenario actually becomes a reality) during the time in which eligibility for all to vote comes? Let's say we have Bobby, a teenager. If the adult takes out a gun and says, "Kid, if you don't vote for Clinton and vote for Obama, I'm going to kill you." What will the kid do? Of course, he'll make the wrong decision. If he doesn't, he'll probably get killed because at his age, he doesn't know how to get help from the police or fight back.

Also, some kids can be bribed with a simple candy bar and not understand the vital circumstances/potential of a vote. Some kids are really smart and make the right choice, but others just don't care. They think it's a way to get food or money.

Jazmine said...

well we kids should be able to vote i mean is not that bad just because we are under age just like cole said u guys dont know what they would do. our vote can change the country even if we are very small maybe for us bush would be even in the white house there would be another esponsible president is not that bush is a bad person but he is NOT RESPONSABLE i reject the law that we cannot vote i is not fair!

Anonymous said...

I think that kids should vote because it is a very important thing to do and if they dont than ;; What if there is not an equal number of grownups that would just make one president or governer win the election automatically so that is what i think

12 year old politician said...

Kids should have the same rights adults do. Who decides that a responsible person is at the age of 18, I know people at that age 18 can be just as responsible or irresponsible as a 12 year old. I am 12 and think a lot about political issues and have well views and should be allowed to vote on them. Voting effects kids as much as adults. If there is a problem with school days and recess why are the people who it affects not allowed to voice there opinions. Honestly I think that some kids could even be better politicians and I say to the people who say that some kids would throw their vote away, and well if that’s the case then let them because most people over 12 would not. Even at the age 16 should people be allowed to run for offices at that age you start taking on responsibilities like driving. And if the government likes the age 18 then let that be the age to run for president

Anonymous said...

KIds under the age of 15 can vote but it can count as a patial vote and people above the age of 15 can vote and have some dimocratic say. and people that are 1 years and older can run for president or run for parlement. kids are peace ful and they have wonderful ideas for the country and the world. adults say to recycle and try not to polute some do and some don't. BUT WE THE KIDS DO. WE THE KIDS SHOULD RULE THE WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Miranda said...

Kind of like cole said,12 and up should ba able to vote because some adults just don't think we care but believe me there is a good amount of us who really do care, I mean shouldn't we be able to choose who is going to help us function in our daily lives and even influence who we are when we get older!

Loopyhog said...

I think kids really make a diffrence im a normal kid in a big world and i feel disgarded from reality so kids out there do you agree with me that we're also basicly a race that most people throw around and what about your parents if we could vote we could make a huge diffrence in the world and our parents can't say for us to do stuff for them and we could be at the same social rank as them and not be pushed around.

Anonymous said...

I think kids age 13 and up should be aloud to vote. It doesn't matter what the election is for. because in my opinion the elections for governer and president effect kids way more than adults.

abunnyprincess said...

I think kids should vote we should have a say in politics. We hear about the prime minister or presedent and what they do. Plus we're citizens to.

abunnyprincess said...

kids are great people!!!! We know more about politics, desicion making and what it's like to go aganst people your friends with than alot of adults do. KIDS ROCK!!!!!!!!!

Jeremy, age 13, Massachusetts said...

The prospect of children having a say in the national presidential election is undoubtedly one of the most controversial topics in discussion today... at least amongst the children in question.

I, myself, lean towards decreeding that children should NOT be allowed to vote. I know many children, and many of these reading my comment at this very moment, disagree to the greatest extent, but I just don't think many children are ready for that kind of decision, and all of the prerequisite research and study involved. That being said, I really liked the statement said by Sarah, age 14, of California in the original post here, declaring that an age limitation not be instituted, but rather a knowledge limitation, stating "... age does not determine maturity, " and referencing to the fact that, in many children, the brain's decision-making centre is not fully developed, and she goes on to explain about a sort of aptitude test that a voter must take in order to qualify for a position to vote.
It is quite obvious that if such a test existed, some children, such as the author of the aforementioned statement would CLEARLY pass such an aptitude test. However, it is also clear that many children would not, and I would not like to provide live examples, as some would view this as cruel or degrading. That being said, since all children mature at very different rates, a 12 year old could pass the 'Voter Aptitude Test', while another 12 year old might not, based on their differing knowledge of the candidates and the candidates' opinions.. That could also mean a 13 year old might pass, while a 21 year old might not.
I have had thoughts and speculations of such an aptitude test, probably since I was 10, and first beginning to understand politics as a whole. My thoughts were that there should be no limit to voting age beyond the age where most children have adequate education in literature, mathematics, geography, and social 'sciences' to correctly recognize and interpret statements from politicians. Perhaps certain individuals would be 'exempt' from the age limitation by passing early standardized tests with a certain grade, displaying fluorishing knowledge of all of the mentioned fields.

Anywho, just my opinion. : )

And then, just to test if the HTML tags supported by New Moon blog's commenting system supports <ASCII CHARACTER CODES>.
Meh, cool, it does! See the < >'s?

alex said...

I am a kid who loves politics and loves watching the debates on t.v. and i get so upset that we kids can not vote. I think kids 12 and older should be able to vote. there are very many reasons why i think kids should be able to vote but i am only going to get to 1 so listen up. 1) just because we're small does not mean we don't know what we're doing and were we're going we are smart and love to listen and love to make our lives the way we want them 2 be. WE ROCK!!!!!!!!!

Annomus Hedgehog age 9 said...

In the declaration it says that all men were created equal. During the 1800's women fought for their right to vote. Now kids are fighting for their right to vote. WE are men and woman just short and smallish. Everywhere i hear of kids watching the debate with their parents but unless they have a say in it there's NO reason that kids should watch it. Children over age 9 SHOULD VOTE!!!!!!

Hope said...

Kid should be able to vote. I sertenly want to. Why shouldn't we? I'm ready to make my choice, GO OBAMA! oh and cole, YOU ROCK! plus, we are the ones who are going to be living in this world with the new persident. shouldn't we be abl to pick who he (or she) is? DUH