Letters

Letters

Talking about teen voting

Mandatory Credit: Photo by KATHERINE TAYLOR/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock (9804565e) Vikiana Petti-Homme (C), 17, a rising senior at Boston Latin Academy, chants into a megaphone while David Hogg (R), 18, a survivor of the 14 February 2018 Parkland shooting marches to her right, during a youth march to protest gun violence, in Worcester, Massachusetts, USA, 23 August 2018. Others are not identified. More than 50 youth activists prepared to march 50 miles to the Smith&Wesson's headquarters in Springfield, Massachusetts, to stress their call on the gun manufacturer to stop manufacturing all weapons outlawed under Massachusetts' 2004 Assault Weapons Ban and to make a five million US dollars donation towards researching gun violence. Youth March to Demand Gun Reforms, Worcester, USA - 23 Aug 2018
KATHERINE TAYLOR/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Argument engages in dubious fearmongering

Re “Pressley’s false start on teen voting” (Opinion, March 12): Jennifer C. Braceras’s case against lowering the federal voting age to 16 alarmingly echoes past arguments against equal voting rights for minorities (teens will elect one of their own in Taylor Swift) and marriage equality (the slippery slope to 5-year-olds voting).

Laurence Steinberg’s research into adolescent decision-making has shown that, while teens may need protections around making emotionally “hot” decisions, such as whether to do drugs or fire a gun, they have the same cognitive skills as adults when it comes to making rational, “cold” decisions, such as how to vote.

Braceras would do better to cite real scientific research rather than trafficking in dubious fearmongering.

Alex Wheeler

Somerville

The writer is a doctoral student in clinical psychology at Suffolk University.

Those Parkland teens would make fine voters

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Jennifer C. Braceras has stereotyped teens’ vacuousness in a breezy op-ed that someone at the Globe should have edited more closely. My now-grown teenagers were serious, thinking, studious people who never were monosyllabic or any of the other tropes Braceras presents. The Parkland, Fla., teens are a better example of why we should lower the voting age.

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The argument that teen brains are not mature enough to vote suggests that we should have an intelligence test for voting eligibility, because many of Braceras’s statistics could easily be applied to seniors.

Also, last I checked, the 29-year-old Taylor Swift won’t be eligible to be president until she is 35, at which time I would happily vote for her.

Susan W. Morris

Boston

Pressley’s proposal is a nonstarter

Jennifer C. Braceras makes a cogent argument for not lowering the voting age to 16. I trust that Representative Ayanna Pressley’s recent proposal is just the thoughtless mistake of a beginner and not a headline-grabbing antic, as I’ve heard so many describe it.

Jim Bretta

Somerville

Maybe parents are the problem

As the mother of two 16-year-olds, I find Jennifer C Braceras’ piece on teen voting to focus on the wrong issue. She claims that young people “have little awareness of politics, civics, or American history.” I disagree. Our kitchen table is filled with debates about local, national, and international issues. Perhaps Braceras should focus on parents who themselves don’t know enough about these issues to debate their educated teens.

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Raising civic-minded kids is our responsibility. Don’t blame teens for adult ignorance.

Susan Elsbree

Jamaica Plain

Judging by 2016, the over-18 crowd was no great shakes

Jennifer C. Braceras purports to make the case against lowering the voting age to 16; her argument makes the opposite case. She claims that 16-year-olds are “monosyllabic,” and that they “have little awareness of politics, civics, or American history.” This describes the current president — elected to the office by voters who were all over 18.

Let 16- and 17-year-olds vote. They can’t do any worse.

Jon Plotkin

Hull

On local level, voting process could make for a good civics lesson

Jennifer C. Braceras criticizes Representative Ayanna Pressley for trying to lower the legal voting age to 16. After describing teenagers as practically cretins, Braceras does mention one point, namely that even at the age of 18, voting participation is relatively low. However, dropping the voting age to 16 — or even 14 (my preference) — could actually improve voter participation.

Children between 14 and 18 are in high school, where many have courses in civics. A good civics teacher would have the opportunity to bring in local politicians, such as city councilors and school committee members, and candidates for those offices to speak to the classes and answer pointed questions. The students would have the opportunity to judge how sincere the candidates are. They could decide which ones deserve their votes. Some students would actually want to campaign for or against a certain candidate.

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In a close election, the votes of high school students might actually affect who wins. Through experience, teens would find out, at least sometimes, that their votes do count.

A lot of students will find that they enjoy being politically active. Even when they go off to college, they will not be as cynical as a lot of college-age kids are.

Peter B. Denison

Somerset