Riordan Roundtable

John McQuaid, Staff Reporter

The voting age in America has been set at 18 years old since 1970, when activists managed to pass the 26th Amendment. Since then, several groups have tried to change local voting ages.

In California, a 2005 resolution made it possible for cities and counties to lower their voting age to 16 years old. Now, it is time that San Francisco made use of this resolution and lower the age required to vote in its elections.

An important argument in favor of letting younger citizens vote is the fact that 16 and 17 year olds already contribute to the political process. We can participate in grassroots activism, campaign management, and creation of political action committees.

Teenagers have already successfully run for political offices. Some cases include Derrick Seaver, 18, the only Democratic candidate for the Ohio State Legislature in 2001; Jeremy Minnier, 18, who began serving as the mayor of Aredale, Iowa in2011; and Jeff Dunkel, 18, who served for over a decade as Mayor of Mount Carbon, Pennsylvania.

Most supporters of a lower voting age also point out that restricting voting ability based on experience or intelligence is not fully democratic. Regardless, the federal government clearly already sees 16 year olds as responsible people. After all, that is when a person can obtain his driver’s license. It seems ridiculous that while we are allowed to drive two ton metal boxes around at high speed, we are not allowed to have a voice in our government.

If we are entrusted with the safety of ourselves and everyone on the road, why can we not be trustedwiththeresponsibilityofvoting? If starting earlier makes us more likely to stay politically active as we make voting a habit, why should we not be allowed to start that good habit?

There is little reason why San Francisco should not at least experiment with lowering its voting age to 16 or 17 years old.