The legal age for voting in Massachusetts has been 18 for nearly half a century. Previously, the voting age in most states, including Massachusetts, had been 21 years old. The ballot to change the age was passed during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency in 1971. However, in recent years, a few states around the US have fought in favor of lowering their local voting ages to 16 or 17. While this may seem unreasonable to some, Democratic House Representative Ayanna Pressley is urging the legislature to lower the federal voting age to 16, giving younger people an opportunity to participate in the democratic process. If this bill were passed, it would go into effect in 2020, so these potential young voters could partake in the approaching presidential election.
Those in support of lowering the voting age believe that it could be an amazing opportunity for the young community and will provide them a way to partake in their country’s decision-making process. According to Boston Globe Media Partners, Pressley said in a statement, “our young people are at the forefront of some of the most existential crises facing our communities and our society at large. I believe that those who will inherit the nation we design here in Congress by virtue of our policies and authority should have a say in who represents them.” What Pressley and many other supporters are trying to say is that the young community deserves to have an impact on deciding the future of their country.
Nantucket Town Selectman, Jason Bridges, gave his opinion on the subject by saying, “I strongly support lowering the voting age. Any incentive to get youth more involved and at an earlier age is a good thing. I know of students here on the island that are 14 and 15 who are well informed and would take the opportunity to engage in the civic process. I also think that if 16 and 17-year-olds are working and paying taxes, then they should have a say in our government. 40% of the world cannot vote in their country; let’s extend this right to more of our citizens!”
When focusing more in terms of the local voting age of Massachusetts, it is much more likely the young advocates will succeed in lowering the age to 16. In contrast to a nationwide lowering of the voting age, local polling is much less demanding. When it all comes down to it, this generation is the future of America and many argue that it would be beneficial to allow high schoolers to take action in the decisions their state and possibly even their country is debating.
On the other hand, there are those who fight against lowering the voting age who argue that it would be a mistake. Many claim that 16-year-olds are too young and immature to be making such big choices and that it is unclear to whether they will be taking advantage of this privilege or using it responsibly. When 16-year-old sophomore Sydney Ryder was asked what her opinion was on lowering the voting age she said, “although I do think that many 16-year-olds would be able to handle the responsibility that comes along with voting, there is still a large part of the 16-year-old population that would not be able to manage it and are not educated well enough on the subject.”
As of now, lowering the local voting age seems to be a very controversial topic, but it will all come down to what the people decide. In November of last year, a similar suggestion arose in the legislature to lower the federal voting age like Ayanna Pressley is advocating for but it was shot down. Knowing this, it seems unlikely that 16-year-olds will be able to participate in the 2020 presidential election, but for local voting, it is all up to the ballots.