With the presidential election season in full swing and new voter registration laws causing a stir among a lot of communities, the issue of the voting age is back–and not just in the U.S., where the voting age likely won’t change anytime soon. Some serious moves are being made in Argentina, where the government is considering lowering the voting age from 18 to 16.
There’s been an ongoing debate in Argentina about the voting age. One supporter of lowering the voting age claims that in the 100 years since the voting age first became 18, we’ve advanced enough to lower the age to 16–because we’re more informed, information is more readily available (hello, Internet and TV!), and teens are maturing a lot faster than they did a century ago. We think that’s a pretty solid argument, right?
However, not everyone is buying the motivations behind lowering the voting age in Argentina. In fact, some political figures there are saying it’s a ploy by the current Argentinian president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, to swing the election in her favor, because she’s got a big base among younger voters (ranging from ages 18 to 25).
What’s more, there’s been an outcry against possible political propaganda that’s been distributed in Argentinian public schools lately. La Campora, a pro-government youth movement in Argentina, held political discussions inside public schools–which, as you know, are paid for by taxpayers–and this didn’t sit well with a lot of powerful people, who filed complaints over the rallies, which featured a game that pretty much poised the “bad guys” as President de Kirchner’s opponents. It’d be like if Obama’s campaign hosted a football game at your school and made the opposing team change their name to “The Republicans” and made their mascot Mitt Romney: You’re supposed to root against them. Even in the context of a game, that has the potential to stick in the back of your mind and influence you later on.
Part of why the Argentinian voting age debate is important is because it can serve as a reflection of our own voting laws. When the 26th amendment passed in 1971, it barred any state from raising the voting age beyond 18–in part because a lot of states made efforts to block voters who protested against the Vietnam War, and many of those people were young. Since then, voter registration laws have been pretty consistent–until now, when a lot of states have begun to instate and enforce voter ID laws, requiring registered voters to produce a photo ID. This disproportionately affects poorer communities where many voters don’t have cars (and thus don’t have a driver’s license) or go to college to have a student ID. Lowering the voting age in the U.S. would likely pose challenges to these new laws, because in many states, 16-year-olds can’t drive, and not all high school IDs have pictures on them.
Many younger and lower-income voters skew toward the liberal side, which would imply voting Democrat. So if we lowered the voting age in the U.S., it may tilt the polls in favor of President Obama and away from Republican candidate Mitt Romney, because the Democratic stances on issues like gay marriage, abortion rights, healthcare, and student loans are better matched to younger demographics.
Plus, President Obama slow jammed the news.
Do you think the voting age should be lowered? Do you think political rallies should be held in schools? Do you think a voting age of 16 would be appropriate, or that we should keep the voting age at 18? Tell us in the comments!
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