Friday, February 8, 2019
Minors Go Major?
I’m way behind in listening to my favorite local podcast, “Elevate Maryland”. I’m only about a third of the way in to the episode featuring my new Council representative Opel Jones. And there’s still this week’s episode with Council member Christiana Rigby to delve into. Ah, weekend. I intend to do some catching up in the listening department.
An issue that Jones raised that surprised me was a goal to lower the voting age to 16. He cited the interest and activism of local teens in his reasoning to change the law. Maybe I’m just an old fogey, but I don’t agree. I think sixteen year olds are still in a position to be so heavily influenced by their parents vote as to compromise the independence of their choices.
When we think about how minors are in a position to be abused by those in a greater position of power, it is the difference in age and status that puts the young person at risk. I’m inclined to believe that this puts a teen voter at risk, as well. Does granting sixteen year olds the vote essentially give their parents/guardians an additional vote? Perhaps not always. But, in many cases, I think it would.
Of course I believe that teens have their own ideas and are capable of doing research and getting involved in the political process. I’d love to see Council Member Jones push for expanded civics education in our schools from middle school onwards. There’s a good deal more we could be doing to prepare our young people to be involved and educated voters. Honoring them by making voter education a priority would have a more comprehensive long term effect than granting teens the vote.
What do you think?