Advocating for the right to vote isn’t easy, but we’ve put together a list of talking points that you can use whether you are talking to your friends and family or writing a speech to give at your city’s council meeting. We’ve also included academic articles and persuasive essays for those who want a more in-depth analysis. And be sure to check out our Top Ten Reasons to Lower the Voting Age as well!

Young people are directly affected by political decisions

  • The 26th Amendment to the US Constitution, which lowered the voting age to 18, was passed because of the clear double standard of making 18-year-olds fight for their country when they didn’t have a political voice. The idea that anyone directly affected by political decisions should have a right to voice their opinions on such decisions should not be limited to only military conscription.
  • Young people are most directly impacted by education policy. Students have a better understanding of what reforms are needed, but can’t even vote in school board elections.
  • Young people will live with the effects of climate change for longer and are more likely to live in poverty than adults, but have no voice in determining public policy decisions.
  • Young people pay taxes (including $730 million in income tax in 2011) and have no say on how that money is spent.
  • Many people 16 and younger are tried as adults and are placed in adult jails. If youth can be punished like adults, they should be given the rights of adults.

Young people demonstrate responsibility, maturity, and knowledge comparable to other voters

  • Over one million Americans under the age of 18 have jobs, often while attending school at the same time.
  • Sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds are allowed to drive in all 50 states.
  • A study of 16- and 17-year-old Americans showed that they are “generally indistinguishable in their capacities to function as citizens and to vote responsibly from the youngest adults (18-year-olds) who are entitled to vote…[and] that to deny 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote is arbitrary.”
  • Young people are often taking classes in history, government, law, and/or economics which can help make them more informed voters.
  • Studies show 16-year-olds show adequate political knowledge to make informed decisions. In fact, 16-year-old Americans score higher in areas related to civic knowledge than those in their early twenties.
  • The federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 states that:

    any person who has not been adjudged an incompetent and who has completed the sixth grade in a public school in, or a private school accredited by, any State or territory, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico where instruction is carried on predominantly in the English language, possesses sufficient literacy, comprehension, and intelligence to vote in any election.

  • Students who took participated the “We the People ” program, which is civics curriculum created by the Center for Civic Education, scored better than adults 18-80 in knowledge of government and politics:
QuestionWTP Students Answering CorrectlyAdults (18-80) Answering Correctly
Could name the vice-president96%74%
Understood the meaning of “Judicial Review”96%66%
Knew Two-Thirds Veto Override Requirement87%34%
Knew which political party controlled the House of Representatives68%68%
Could explain political party ideology87%57%

Young people will turnout to vote

Youth voting also increases voter turnout among adults

  • According to research done by CIRCLE (The Center For Information & Research On Civic Learning & Engagement), involving young people in election-related learning, activities and discussion can have an impact on the young person’s household, increasing the likelihood that others in the household will vote.
  • Studies conducted by the Kids Voting, a program that conducts civic education and mock elections in K-12, have shown that adult voters, including, but not limited to the parents of participating students, are more likely to turnout to elections has a result of the mock elections.
  • Because of the habitual nature of voting, 16 is a better age to introduce voting. At 18, many young people moving from one community to another. (This is especially true for college students who may register at home, but be living in another state come Election Day.) At 16, most people’s living arrangements are pretty stable as they are less likely to leave their community in the middle of high school. If citizens begin voting earlier, and get into the habit of doing so earlier, they are more likely to stick with it through life.

States are allowed to set their voting age below 18

  • Some people mistakenly believe that the 26th Amendment to the United States Constitution set the voting age at 18. However, it clearly states: “The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.” This only prohibits states and municipalities from setting a voting age above 18, it does not prevent states from lowering it.

Organizations and people that support lowering the voting age

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE)

A majority of House Democrats and Michael Burgess (R-TX)!

Young Democrats of America

High School Democrats of America

San Francisco Democratic Party

Fairfax County Democratic Committee

NAACP CO-WY-MT State Conference

AFT Massachusetts

Colorado Education Association

Democracy for America

ACLU California

Denver Public Schools

March For Our Lives Massachusetts

March For Our Lives Colorado

League of Women Voters Massachusetts


Generation Citizen/Vote16USA

Roosevelt Institute

Unified Democracy

National Children’s Campaign

Meddling Kids Movement

Youth Climate Strike Coalition

Zero Hour

Future Coalition

Rock the Vote

San Francisco Youth Commission (Richmond, CA)

Richmond Youth Council (Richmond, CA)

Northampton Youth Commission (Northampton, MA)

Our CAPS Community Alliance for Peaceful Streets (Washington, DC)

United Teen Equality Center (Lowell, MA)

Kate Brown, Oregon Governor

David Zuckerman, Vermont Lieutenant Governor

Keith Ellison, Minnesota Attorney General and former U.S. Representative

2020 Presidential Candidates Tulsi Gabbard, Tim Ryan, Eric Swalwell, Seth Moulton, Andrew Yang, Marianne Williamson, and Vermin Supreme

56 Massachusetts Senators and Delegates

Ed Ableser, Arizona State Representative

Phyllis Kahn, former Minnesota State Representative

Javier Martínez, New Mexico State Representative

Ralph Nader, former Green Party Presidential Candidate

Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House Minority Leader

Jill Stein, Green Party Presidential Candidate

Evan Low, California State Assembly Member

Carolyn Maloney, U.S. Representative from New York

Luis Gutiérrez, U.S. Representative from Illinois

Richard Branson, Investor and philanthropist

Francis Schrag, education policy professor

William Frey, Brookings Institute demographer and population studies professor

Jason Kander, former Missouri Secretary of State and head of Let America Vote

John Wall, ethicist

Shaun King, journalist

Michael Moore, documentary filmmaker

Kojo Nnambi, NPR host

George Soros, Investor and philanthropist

Laurence Steinberg, journalist and psychology professor

Laurence Tribe, Harvard law professor

Ilya Somin, George Mason University law professor

Paul Peterson, government and education reform professor

Daniel Hart and Robert Atkins, childhood studies professors

Paul Demeny, demography professor

The editorial boards of The Washington Post and The Boston Globe

Papers and Reports

Argumentative essays

  • Age of Electoral Majority
    Law professor Vivian Hamilton argues that the arguments justifying exclusion of “mid-adolescents” from voting based on a lack of electoral competence is not valid and suggests that the presumption of inclusion obliges states to adjust the age of electoral majority downward.
  • Children’s Most Essential Right
    This article focuses on the legal argument for lowering the voting age and the use of social science research to support that argument.
    By Ben O’Meara MSW/JD/LLM
    University of Iowa School of Law 1999
    Loyola University Chicago School of Law 2001
  • Children and Political Representation: The Challenge of the Gift
    Professor John Wall asks what it might mean for the third of humanity under eighteen years of age to gain genuine representation in political life.
  • Children’s Political Representation: The Right to Make a Difference
    John Wall and Anandini Dar explore what it might mean for children to enjoy genuine political representation.
  • Children’s Political Rights
    Children’s rights activist Bob Franklin examines and takes a critical view of four common objections to including children in political life.
  • Democratising Democracy -The Road from Women’s to Children’s Suffrage
    Philosophy professor John Wall This article advances this discussion by comparing children’s suffrage debates today to those surrounding the global women’s suffrage movements of the past century and a half. It argues that minor enfranchisement requires postmodern rather than modern conceptions of democratic inclusion and revised understandings of voting rights as such.
  • Democratic Inclusion, Cognitive Development, and the Age of Electoral Majority
    Law professor Vivian Hamilton argues that “presumptive electoral inclusion” places the burden on the state to justify excluding young people from the electoral process.
  • In Defense of Lowering the Voting Age
    Law Professor Joshua Douglas explores various reasons that defend lowering the voting age.
  • Proposal to Lower the Voting Age
    This well-researched proposal makes the case for why Washington, DC should lower its voting age.
  • The Right to Vote
    Youth rights theorist John Holt argues why people of all ages should be more involved in their government and vote. Taken from the youth rights classic Escape from Childhood.

Research studies


No right is more precious in a free country than that of having a choice in the election of those who make the laws under which…we must live. Other rights, even the most basic, are illusory if the right to vote is undermined. – Wesberry v. Saunders (1964)

If 16-year-olds are old enough to drink the water polluted by the industries that you regulate, if 16-year-olds are old enough to breathe the air ruined by garbage burners that government built, if 16-year-olds are old enough to walk on the streets made unsafe by terrible drugs and crime policies, if 16-year-olds are old enough to live in poverty in the richest country in the world, if 16-year-olds are old enough to get sick in a country with the worst public health-care programs in the world, and if 16-year-olds are old enough to attend school districts that you underfund, then 16-year-olds are old enough to play a part in making them better. – Rebecca Tilsen

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