Now, voters in San Francisco, California, are also considering lowering the voting age. In November, residents will vote on whether 16- and 17-year-olds will be allowed to vote in local elections. If passed, San Francisco would become the first major U.S. city to lower the voting age to 16. Austria lowered the voting age to 16 in 2007. According to Markus Wagner, PhD, professor of social sciences at the University of Vienna, and co-authors, studies of subsequent elections show that “the quality of decisions of these [younger] citizens is similar to that of older voters, so that they vote in a way that allows their interests to be equally well represented.”  However, the proposed reform is not without its criticism. The main argument against lowering the voting age is that young people under the age of 18 lack the ability and motivation to participate effectively in the electoral process (Chan and Clayton, 2006). It is estimated that this will result in a low turnout comparable to, if not lower than, that of citizens aged 18-25 (Electoral Commission, 2004). Another consequence would be that citizens under the age of 18 may not use their vote as effectively as older voters. While they could vote for the sake of voting, they would not challenge the government to meet their interests.
As a result, their choice is motivated more by expressive than instrumental considerations (Tóka, 2009), and their political views are not well represented by political actors. We can see that voter turnout intent will indeed be lower for all younger age groups. The gap between these groups and the reference group of citizens over 30 years of age is quite large: on average, respondents in the youngest groups rate their intention to vote more than 1 unit less than the reference group. The results also highlight that there are only small differences between young people under the age of 18 and those just over 18. In terms of socio-demographic controls, we find that educational attainment is significantly associated with greater intention to vote. The coefficients of the other controls are in the intended direction, but are not significant. It is important to note that the inclusion of basic, mainly socio-demographic, controls does not take into account the age difference in voter turnout, so it is not the place of residence of young citizens or their immigrant background that explains the low voter turnout. Young people are affected by local political issues as much as anyone else. They also work without limits on working hours and pay taxes on their income, can drive in most states and, in some cases, are tried in adult courts.
Sixteen and 17-year-olds deserve the right to vote on issues that affect them at the local level. Moreover, voting is the most reliable way for ordinary citizens to influence government. Lowering the voting age would require local politicians to listen to sixteen and 17-year-olds and address their concerns. Strong civic education and a lower voting age would reinforce each other to increase civic engagement. A lower voting age would make civics more effective, as it would provide an opportunity to directly apply what they learn in the classroom in their communities, giving civics classes crucial relevance. It would also encourage more schools to adopt better quality civic education programs, as this has a direct impact on students` lives. Instead of just arguing and debating “18” or “16”, why not just change it to 17? I asked my teacher, and she said 1 year doesn`t make much difference. And that`s exactly what I mean, if 1 year doesn`t matter, then let`s just change the voting age there! It`s between 18 and 16 years old, so it`s in the middle of too young and too old. A person`s brain is more mature than 16 and under 18. That could put an end to this great debate.
I`m 12 right now, so I`m nowhere near 16 or 18. But 17 gives me more time to study than 16. And it also gives me an earlier chance than 18. I think this is a good idea (personally, you can all have your own opinion). We assess the ability and motivation to participate effectively in politics using three parameters.12 The ability to engage in political debate is assessed on the basis of political knowledge, which we measure by assessing whether respondents correctly classify the Social Democrats (SPÖ) to the left of the two far-right parties (FPÖ and BZÖ) and the People`s Party (ÖVP). We measure the motivation to participate effectively in politics according to political interests and the willingness to consider different forms of non-voting. Respondents` interest in politics is measured by the average of responses to eight questions that draw attention to politics in general and the EP campaign in particular. The variable has been resized to a range of 0 to 1, and the alpha confidence factor for this scale is 0.81. We measured political participation outside of elections by asking respondents to rate their hypothetical willingness to engage in a range of political activities on a four-point scale: contacting a politician, collecting signatures, working for a non-governmental organization, participating in a legal protest, and working on a campaign. We also create an overall index of non-election political turnout based on the average response to the five questions. The scale varies from 0 to 1 with an alpha reliability coefficient of 0.75.
Government decisions affect the lives of adolescents. So more teens deserve a voice in how their city is run, some people say. Moreover, voting is a habit, others say. People who start voting at age 16 may be more likely to vote than adults. Lowering the voting age can lead to a long-term increase in voter turnout, connect more citizens to their government, and push the government to better serve its citizens. Research shows that voting is common. A person who participates in the first election for which they are eligible will likely continue to vote regularly, while a person who does not will take several years to adopt this habit. It`s clear that 16 is a better time to establish a new habit than 18, and data from places that have lowered the voting age shows that 16-year-olds are actually more likely to vote than older new voters.