An Associated Press story in Monday's Daily Press about a bill in the state Assembly that would lower the voting age to 17 was enlightening.
Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Cupertino, is the principal author of Constitutional Amendment 10, which he introduced in early March, along with a bill to make Election Day a state holiday.
Clearly, he is concerned about voter turnout, but we don't think either of his measures is necessary. For one, Americans already are granted by law the right to take off time from work to vote. Second, the voting age has been 18 since Congress approved the 26th Amendment in 1971. We still think voters should be adults, not children (even though some act like children when their candidates don't get elected).
Lowering the vote age to 17 also seems too arbitrary. If you're going to allow children to vote, couldn't you just as easily make a case for lowering the voting age to 16 or 14? Why is 17 a magical number?
America regards 18 as the age when children become adults. Thus it makes sense that would be the age when you are granted the right to vote.
When you're 18, you can work full time, get married without parental approval in 48 states, purchase cigarettes in 46 states, open bank accounts and apply for loans and credit cards. You can also be charged as an adult if you commit a crime, be called to jury duty and are legally obligated to pay all debts you incur.
Although Low says lowering the voting age from 18 to 17 could help foster a sense of civic duty, we wonder if that's really his motivation. Wouldn't a better way to foster a sense of civic duty be to partner with schools to ensure students clearly understand how our system of government works?
Low's proposed constitutional amendment strikes us mainly as being self-serving to Democrats. What better way to ensure their grasp on the state Legislature than to lower the voting age, as polls have shown younger voters tend to lean left?
As it is, it's hard enough to get 18- to 29-year-olds to vote. Only about half of those who were eligible to vote in November's General Election turned out to do so. Rather than lowering the voting age to 17, we think a better strategy would be to make sure schools spend more time teaching civics in elementary, junior high and high school. Let's work on those who are already eligible to actually register to vote and turn out to do so on Election Day.