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Are Teenagers Mature Enough to Vote?

Settembre 2016
Perché l’età legale per votare è fissata a 18 anni? Perché i sedicenni non possono recarsi alle urne? In America il dibattito è acceso, ne è nata anche  una campagna: Vote16Usa.

di By Bruce Alpert | Voice of America

File audio:

Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)

In this year’s Ohio primary, 17-year-olds were allowed to vote. That’s unusual because the voting age in the United States is 18. But in Ohio, a judge ruled that 17-year-olds who turn 18 before the November 8 general election can vote. 

generation citizen

Several groups, including Generation Citizen, want local governments to allow all 16- and 17-year-olds to vote. Generation Citizen argues that lowering the voting age will increase interest in government and politics. “A lower voting age would involve parents, teachers and community members in the process of learning to vote, and would raise adult voter turnout,” said Oliver York, age 16. He is a junior at a San Francisco high school and working with Generation Citizen’s “Vote 16 USA Campaign.”


Opponents of this idea say that 16- and 17-year-olds are not mature enough and would vote the way their parents do. Here is what one person wrote on the website debate.org: “It’s simply the fact that 16 and 17-year-olds don’t have the emotional or mental maturity of someone who is 20. They still have the chaotic hormones of a teenager."
Professor Daniel Hart of Rutgers University found that knowledge of 16- or 17-year-olds about government was almost the same as for 18- and 19-year- olds. The difference was kids aged 15.  
A University of Edinburgh study found many 16- and 17-year-olds do not vote like their parents. The study reported that 40 per cent of these younger voters did not vote the same way as mom and dad in Scotland’s 2014 independence referendum.


Some nations already allow teens younger than 18 to vote. Here are some examples from a recent survey by the CIA: Austria lowered the voting age from 18 to 16 in 2008. Argentina has allowed 16-year-olds to vote since 2012. In Brazil, 16- and 17-year olds and those older than 70 have the option to vote: people aged 18 to 70 are required to vote. Hungary allows 16- and 17-year-olds to vote if they are married. Serbia allows 16-year-olds to vote if they are employed.


Abigail Koerner, age 16, is a junior at a Washington, D.C. high school. She was disappointed she couldn’t vote for her Democratic presidential candidate – Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. “I don’t know enough about politics quite yet to make a distinction as to which party I affiliate with. But everything Bernie says about healthcare and education would benefit my life and the lives of people around me.”


Scott Warren is executive director of Generation Citizen. He said teens who start voting at 16 or 17 will continue to vote when they reach 18, 19 and 20, ages when turnout is now very low. Warren says: “The United States now ranks 143rd in voter turnout, and we think we should be doing all we can to improve that.”
In 2012, 53.6 per cent of the voting-age population voted in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center.


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Junior (che si pronuncia con la g di giugno!) indica che Oliver frequenta il terzo anno delle scuole superiori. Se avesse frequentato il primo sarebbe stato un freshman, il secondo un sophomore, il quarto un senior.