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We should never raise the voting age to 21 (Op-Ed)

Since July 1, 1971 after the ratification of the 26th Amendment to the Constitution, the U.S. has set the national age to vote at 18, recognizing the civil duties and responsibilities of citizenship that were being fulfilled by individuals who were younger than their state-designated voting age. 

This age has been the accepted standard for over 50 years. Why, now, are we seeing calls from Congress to reverse this and delay these young citizens their democratic right to vote? 

While there is a long-held belief that generations will become more conservative with age, it is not certain that this ideology will apply to Generation Z and Generation Alpha, the youngest generations to have either recently reached voting age or are within 5 years of it.  

Each generation, beginning with millennials, is statistically on their way to being the most well-educated in history, reflecting on increasing university attendance and reception of collegiate degrees and certificates. As well, Gen Z is the most ethnically and racially diverse generation in history, growing up in tumultuous times of a war on terror, economic recessions, nationwide civil rights and women’s rights movements, the legalization of same-sex marriage, growing environmental concerns, skyrocketing university tuition prices, an unstable housing market, and an hyperpartisan governing body all before the age of 18. 

While these issues are certainly not unique to this time, these generations are experiencing them at a very impressionable and vulnerable time in their lives: childhood and adolescence. To compound this, modern technology, social media platforms and the Internet have allowed for these issues to permeate these generations’ interest constantly. In other words, while older generations were able to regulate their news consumption to a daily or weekly paper or a nightly television broadcast, younger generations have become accustomed to near-constant exposure to news, social commentary, and lived experiences about these issues. 

With this in mind, it’s no wonder that political activism is so important to these generations.

Why try to raise this age, then? 

With more individuals reaching the age of 18 every year, both Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives alike recognize the potential of their vote to have a major influence on all levels of elections. Those in positions of power whose platforms do not necessarily reflect the same values and beliefs as what is held by a majority of these demographics are sure to be shifting in their seats. Rather than advocate for their constituents who do support them, they toy with the “easy” way out and push for an overall age raise to 21.

As taxpaying, publicly-involved, military-serving individuals in society, Gen Z and Gen Alpha deserve to retain their constitutional right to vote. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that each generation’s voice continues to be heard.


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