Editorials: Can Youth Suffrage Finally Become a Mainstream Issue in 2020? | Elizabeth King/Pacific Standard

Turning 18 is an exciting time for a lot of American teenagers: Once turned the age of majority, one is suddenly allowed to buy tobacco, enlist in the armed services, gamble, and, come election time, head to the polls and vote. And yet, maybe 18 shouldn’t be the franchise gatekeeper that it is: Teenagers under 18 are stakeholders in a variety of local and national issues (education, transportation, and labor rights, to name a few), as the past two years have shown. After the election of Donald Trump, teenagers in Washington, D.C., and the surrounding area walked out of school in November, and took to the streets to march. California high schoolers in Santa Barbara, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and San Diego staged similar walkouts, among other forms of peaceful protest. Those under 18 were unable to participate in politics at the ballot box because of their age, but advocates for youth suffrage hope this won’t always be the case, and are working to lower the voting age to 16. In a country where the president waxes political to a crowd of teenage Boy Scouts, politics are visibly changing the lives of American teens—and youth-suffrage activists are looking to maximize the opportunity to revive their cause.

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