I feel that we should immediately begin discussion and planning to lower the legal voting age in the United States to either 16- or 17-years-old.
By allowing younger people the privilege to help shape the direction of this great nation, we will encourage participation in the political process at an earlier age and help to make better voters out of the next generation.
16- and 17-year-olds in this country are better informed than any generation in history. If we can engage high school student in the political process, they will be more likely to participate for years to come. We should then encourage our schools and school districts to teach these young people about elections and the campaigns on the local, state and national level while they are happening.
If high school students could learn and even get involved directly in campaigns in real time, they will likely be smarter and more informed voters than their parents and grandparents, and less likely to drop out of high school.
For the first time, candidates for political office will want to go into the schools to speak and campaign, which will greatly help with civic involvement.
The 26th Amendment to the Constitution brought the voting age down to 18. The amendment was proposed by Congress in March of 1971 and within four months, was ratified by three-fourths of the state legislators by July of 1971. This was the fastest an amendment has ever been ratified in history. It enabled 10 million new voters the right to vote.
The US ranks 36th in voter turnout, behind such countries as India, Israel, Costa Rica, Bulgaria, Venezuela and Australia. In 2008, 57% of eligible Americans voted. In 2008, 45% of 18-29 year olds voted. By teaching our younger people the privilege of voting early, we can increase participation and turnout for generations to come.
Let's begin the dialog and show our 16- and 17-year-olds that we value them and their opinions. They can drive, pay taxes, enlist in the military at 17 and even vote in certain state primaries at 17 as long as they turn 18 by the general election.
Fred Karger called upon the Congress and the states to ratify the 28th Amendment to our Constitution in a speech to students at the Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College.