According to the March 13 edition of the Mid-Valley Town Crier, the Honorable U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, has announced his support for lowering the voting age in federal elections from 18 to 16 years. His stated reason, echoing the voice of the Hon. U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., is that the youth are more engaged and support the economy. Sadly, neither one of these representatives is old enough to remember the last time it was lowered from 21 to 18. So, I have a few questions for the representatives.
1. By lowering the voting age, are you admitting that high school sophomores are mature enough to make sound adult decisions?
2. Will the rules makers in Washington rewrite all the rules to force the states to lower their age?
3. If a 16-year-old commits an adult-level felony, are you willing to prosecute on an adult level, since you have acknowledged their adult capabilities?
4. Are you next lowering the age of majority to 16?
5. Are you now ready to allow high school students to serve in the military? Or are you ready to allow these same students to send 18-year-olds to war?
6. Since even 12-year-old children are often shown being “engaged in society,” when will you lower the voting age to include them? Have you really thought this through, or is it a political pandering effort?
7. Since this is to apply only to the federal elections, is the federal government going to set up its own election day, or pay for the additional ballots required? No state that I can find has the voting age or the age of majority set to 16 years. While there might be some, the rest of the states will have to have separate ballots for 16-to-17-year-old voters. That will require a lot of extra expense, time and effort. Are you expecting the states to pick that up?
On the surface, this proposal makes great politics and publicity, but does it make sense? Youth at the age of 18 have at least finished, or are about to finish, high school, or they are in college. They have proven some level of maturity.
After working in public education for more than 30 years, I have found very few sophomores operating at that level, which is to be expected. They are learning, growing, developing, and are not ready to serve in the military.
Solely supporting the economy does not make sound reasoning on the part of the representatives.
Richard Hill, Weslaco