“When you’re 17, that’s when most of us are seniors,” said Carline Kirksey, one of the youth leaders of the campaign. “You have more adult responsibilities. You can join the military. You can be tried as an adult in court.”I don't know if that research is good, or even care a whole lot about voter turnout rates; all I know is that the case for teenage voting seems very strong to me. Part of that is simply the place of voting within the system: as I see it, voting is just the entry-level political act, and since we allow and even encourage teenagers to do far more important forms of political action, I can't imagine a good case for them to not share in voting.
Another organizer Corinne Plaisir chimes in, saying that at 18 many young people are off at college. Figuring out the process all alone and voting unceremoniously by absentee ballot aren’t exactly enticements to civic participation. Instead, argues Plaisir, if young people can start voting in high school as part of their civics education, “It’s a prime time to engage in our civic rights.” Plus research has shown that when teens engage in even mock elections, their voter turnout as adults increases by almost 10 percent.
I'm aware of the arguments against younger children voting, and while I'm increasingly convinced that they're wrong, I do still think there's a reasonable case to be made that way. But high school kids, and certainly 17 year olds? Of course they should have the vote. Good job, high school students from Lowell, and good luck.
(I can't leave this without taking the opportunity to mention the perhaps only tangentially related argument that everyone at or above voting age should be eligible to run for office, as argued by John Seery in his new book, Too Young to Run?. He's right!).