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TIPS & EXPERT ADVICE ON ESSAYS, PAPERS & COLLEGE APPLICATIONS

When do we let the young make important life decisions? Major governments all give different answers to this age-old question. In parts of the US, you can drink at 21, smoke at 19, fight for your country at 17, have sex at 16 and be tried as an adult at 14. Age limits vary wildly from place to place. Belgian kids can get drunk legally at 16, 2 years before they can drive. However, most democracies can agree on one restriction, it takes 18 years of age to vote. When politicians suggest lowering the voting age, the argument against them is that before 18 you are way too immature and don’t know enough about government to contribute. This whole debate often misses the real issue: that less young people are voting. Young people’s issue with voting matters because it’s a habit. Those who don’t start young may never start. That could cause lower participation rates in the near and long-term future, causing the importance of governments to take towards a downward spiral in which small turnout feeds skepticism towards democracy, causing irreversible damage to future society.The lack of interest has many causes. The young tend to see voting as a choice rather than a privilege. Governments need to find ways to reiterate the passion, rather than continue to ignore its missing. A good step would be to lower the voting age to 16, this would ensure that new voters get off to the best possible start. Keeping the voting age at 18 means that young people’s first chance to vote often falls when they finish their education and leave their home. Away from their families, they have no help when it comes to voting for the first time. Sixteen-year-olds, however, can easily be added to the ballot and introduced to partaking in government at home and at school. Eleven years ago, Austria became the only established country where 16-year-olds could vote in all elections. The turnout rates for under-18s are much higher than for 19 to 25-year-olds. Lowering the voting age would create a voice for the young and signal that their opinions matter. It is us, after all, who will bear the worst of climate change and other global issues that were fostered by past generations. Voting at 16 would make it easier to push young citizens in civic life. Above all, it would guarantee the supply of young voters needed to preserve the vitality of democracy. Catch us early, and we will grow into better citizens.

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