For years, students have been taking government and civics classes to help them develop their own opinions about politics.
Many Rio students have even participated in mock elections for the state and federal government.
Now, for the first time, these students may actually be able to use all their political knowledge in the real world before senior year, with the proposition and possible passage of ACA 7.
The law would amend the state constitution to allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections if they would turn 18 by the general election.
Of course, this potential law raises one big question: Is it a good idea to let teens vote earlier?
In a word, yes.
The students who take the time and consideration to vote early will probably be the most motivated and informed.
In fact, the early voting students would be arguably more informed and wiser than many older voters.
Furthermore, the high school classes to which these youth are exposed give students a broader perspective on politics and history than most news stations or other forms of media.
Someone who solely watches FOX News or MSNBC as his only form of news will receive far more biased information than students in government classes.
On the other hand, however, though many students are already very politically informed, many may be easily swayed by external factors as well.
For example, due to their inexperience, young voters may be persuaded to vote for a certain candidate simply because of his or her sex, race, religion, or even how “cool” they appear to be.
Normally, it would seem that students who do not care enough to inform themselves about candidates would not take the time to vote, but aforementioned external labels might be enough to convince some otherwise apathetic students.
However, of course, adults are not exempt from such bias either: not digging deep and researching candidates is certainly a widespread problem for all age groups, so it may simply be a drawback voting automatically comes with.
Hopefully, though, the school could help compensate for this potential problem by making basic information about candidates’ ideas and policies easily accessible to all.
Another possible downside of ACA 7 (depending on your party) is that younger voters tend to lean Democratic, a fact which upsets the GOP.
However, both parties would benefit from being able to better gauge how large their voter bases will be during the general election.
This affects how campaigns will conduct canvassing and mailing programs during the fall election season.
Recently, the Republican Party did an online survey of thousands of young people to figure out how they can better tailor their message to a generation which has been largely against their brand of conservatism.
Maybe if convincing younger people to vote more Republican is successful, such as it was in the 1980s with Generation X voters, elections on the national level would became more competitive and both parties can welcome more people with dissenting views.
“I think it’s great,” junior Ethan Webster said.
“It means we get a political voice just that much sooner.”
Lowering the primary voting age to 17 would guarantee first time voters an opportunity to vote on campuses where general polling places are set up.
This means high turnout solely due to convenience; if you can vote at school, why wouldn’t you?
By lowering the voting age we are encouraging students to remain informed on relevant political matters and raise turnout.
In a time when people are wondering if democracy can survive in a world where life is increasingly defined as living within the confines of consumerism and materialism, especially with the advent of new technologies, we should welcome people who are interested in the political process and not exclude them.
In a time when winning elections often means appealing to the lowest common denominator, we should welcome a breath of fresh air in the political process and not slam the door on it.
This is a good idea.