1/8: MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS
"THEY LACK EXPERIENCE"
Sufficient experience is a multifaceted concept that cannot be solely defined by age, childhood, educational background, or neighborhood. It is a combination of various factors that contribute to an individual's ability to make informed decisions and participate effectively in civic processes.
By the age of 16, many students will have spent over a decade (K-11) directly experiencing the policies and decisions made by their district's Board of Education. This extensive exposure provides them with a deep understanding of the board's function, authority, and the direct impact of its policies on their daily lives. This daily experience equips students to form independent opinions, gain perspectives, and develop insights into the enforcement of school board policies, their effects on education, and the overall school environment. It demonstrates that students can indeed contribute valuable perspectives to the electoral and governance processes, even though school boards may not always acknowledge or encourage these diverse viewpoints.
The notion that 16 and 17-year-olds lack the life experience to vote in local and school board elections is refuted by existing evidence. Political knowledge and engagement play pivotal roles in shaping engaged citizens and promoting political participation. However, despite increased formal education, levels of political knowledge have remained stagnant. This suggests that traditional classroom-based civic education may not be sufficient in raising political awareness.
Contrary to this notion, studies have shown that 16 and 17-year-olds possess the cognitive skills necessary for voting, including information gathering, critical thinking, and logical reasoning with facts. Several countries, including Austria and Brazil, already allow 16-year-olds to vote in national elections, and some U.S. locations have set the minimum voting age for local elections at 16. In fact, research has demonstrated that 16 and 17-year-olds who are granted the right to vote in local elections, as seen in Takoma Park, Maryland, exhibit political maturity and higher voting rates compared to 18-year-olds.
Furthermore, concerns about the political maturity of 16 and 17-year-olds do not align with developmental science. Negative stereotypes about teenagers often serve as barriers to changing the voting age, but these stereotypes are not supported by the evidence. Granting 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote in local and school board elections empowers them with a sense of agency and allows them to have a say in decisions directly affecting their lives, such as education policies.
Lowering the voting age to 16 for local and school board elections in Missouri offers several advantages. It promotes civic engagement among young people, who are already changing the ways they participate in public life. Allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote enhances accountability by increasing the pool of voters who can hold elected officials responsible for their actions and decisions. Additionally, it addresses issues of inequality in representation by ensuring that the voices and concerns of younger generations are considered.
In conclusion, the assertion that 16 and 17-year-olds lack the life experience to vote in local and school board elections is unfounded and contradicted by available evidence. Lowering the voting age to 16 aligns with developmental science and promotes civic engagement, accountability, and equality in representation. Granting young people the right to vote in these elections recognizes their political maturity and empowers them to actively participate in shaping their communities and education systems.
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2/8: MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS
"THEY'RE NOT MENTALLY DEVELOPED ENOUGH!"
The belief that all 16 and 17-year-olds lack the cognitive development required for voting in local and school board elections contradicts the available evidence. By drawing on research and expert opinions, we can demonstrate that young individuals possess the essential cognitive capacity and political knowledge needed to make informed decisions and actively participate in the democratic process.
Concerns regarding the political maturity of 16 and 17-year-olds are not supported by developmental science. Negative stereotypes about teenagers may be a significant obstacle to changing the voting age, but these stereotypes are not substantiated by evidence. While it is true that cognitive research indicates the brain isn't fully developed until age 25, it's misleading to imply that individuals need their full cognitive capacity to cast a vote. In reality, individuals employ "hot" and "cold" cognitive skills to make decisions in various aspects of their lives.
These skills can influence voting behavior, and here's how they relate to voting:
1. Cold Cognitive Skills:
Research overwhelmingly confirms that cold cognitive skills are fully developed by age 16 (National Library of Medicine, 2018).
These skills involve rational and analytical thinking processes based on logic, facts, and careful evaluation.
When using cold cognitive skills for voting, individuals engage in a thoughtful, deliberative decision-making process.
This includes gathering information , analyzing policies, weighing pros and cons, and considering long-term consequences.
A vast majority of cognitive science research supports that 16- & 17-year-olds possess these skills. These skills are put into action when voting locally!
2. Hot Cognitive Skills:
Hot cognitive skills are influenced by emotions and immediate reactions.
These decisions are driven more by emotional and impulsive factors.
Research has shown that adolescents possess the political maturity and cognitive capacity to vote and make informed decisions. Opposition to changing the voting age is often rooted in misconceptions about young individuals' political knowledge and cognitive abilities. Granting them the right to vote would acknowledge their political maturity and allow them to actively participate in shaping their communities.
Contrary to the myth, political knowledge is not solely dependent on age or formal education. Levels of political knowledge have remained stagnant despite increases in education. This suggests that traditional classroom-based civic education may not be sufficient in raising political awareness. Recent studies indicate that adolescents have the cognitive capacity and political knowledge to participate in elections. They can gather and process information, weigh pros and cons, and reason logically with facts, challenging the assertion that all 16 and 17-year-olds lack the necessary cognitive development for voting.
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3/8: myths and misconceptions
"IT WILL BENEFIT ONE POLITICAL PARTY OVER THE OTHER!"
The claim that lowering the voting age to 16 in nonpartisan local and school board elections in Missouri would benefit one political party over the other is a myth that lacks substantial evidence. Lowering the voting age in Missouri is a matter of civic engagement and participation, rather than partisan advantage. Drawing upon research and expert opinions, we find that lowering the voting age to 16 in nonpartisan elections promotes inclusivity, encourages political participation, and strengthens democracy– not partisan politics. The initiative to lower the voting age has bipartisan support. There is a large coalition of both republicans and democrats at all levels of government and society across the country who support initiatives to lower the voting age to 16 in local and school board elections.
In fact, throughout our campaign you will see that we push for vocal support from both republicans and democrats across the state of Missouri.
The key factor to keep in mind here is that Missouri’s local and school board elections are nonpartisan. This means that the candidate’s political affiliations are irrelevant at this level and are often not discussed and are never put on the ballot. For example, in nonpartisan local elections, you will never see a “D,” “R,” “I,” or any other political party affiliation signage next to a candidate's name. There is no political evidence that lowering the voting age in nonpartisan elections would impact political parties. That's the beauty of this movement--we are working to increase civic engagement at a younger age while the elections are legally nonpartisan. There are no political party affiliations in city council and school board elections!
Nonpartisan local and school board elections are designed to focus on community issues and representation, rather than partisan politics (Jacoby, 2010). Research has shown that voters in nonpartisan elections evaluate candidates based on their personal characteristics, policy positions, and performance, rather than strict party affiliations (Jacoby, 2010). Therefore, lowering the voting age in nonpartisan elections would not disproportionately benefit one political party over the other, as voters are more likely to make independent decisions based on candidate qualifications and issue positions.
The Vote16MO Campaign is working with republicans and democrats, community leaders, and individual citizens to pass the referendum and then secure a victory margin vote in the November 2024 election!
You can contact your republican or democratic state representative representative to voice your support from any party point of view!
It takes the work of Missourians who set political parties aside to work to create the best possible setting and legal environment for all, everywhere!
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4/8: MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS
"THEY WILL ONLY COPY THEIR PARENTS' VOTES!"
While family matters, including the concerns of certain households, family socioeconomic standings, and the influences of how someone is raised may contribute to the way all people vote, research and history proves that it doesn't control the way youth vote--nor do their parents. The assertion that lowering the voting age in local and school board elections to 16 would result in 16- and 17-year-olds merely copying their parents' votes is inaccurate and unsupported by evidence. Lowering the voting age in Missouri will empower young individuals to make independent decisions and engage in the democratic process. Drawing upon research and expert opinions, the evidence demonstrates that young voters are capable of forming their own political opinions and should be granted the right to vote.
Research on retrospective voting in local elections has shown that voters evaluate incumbents based on their performance in specific areas, such as school board elections. Voters place significant weight on evaluations of board members' competency, measured by the performance of local schools. This suggests that voters consider the performance of incumbents rather than blindly following party lines or parental preferences. Lowering the voting age would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to participate in this accountability process and make informed decisions based on their own assessment of candidates' performance.
Lowering the voting age recognizes the capacity of 16- and 17-year-olds to form independent political opinions. Research has shown that young individuals possess the cognitive abilities necessary for critical thinking and decision-making. They are capable of gathering information, evaluating different perspectives, and making informed choices. By granting them the right to vote, Missouri would acknowledge their ability to think critically and independently, fostering a sense of civic responsibility and engagement.
While it is true that individuals, regardless of age, may be influenced by their parents or other influential figures, it is important to recognize that young voters have the capacity to make decisions based on their own values and beliefs. Research on regional head elections in East Java, Indonesia, has shown that religious elite figures play a significant role in influencing voter behavior. However, this does not imply that young voters are incapable of independent decision-making. Lowering the voting age allows young individuals to engage with a broader range of perspectives and influences, enabling them to develop their own political identities and make choices that align with their values.
The nationalization of elections, where voting patterns in one election influence voting behavior in other elections, is a well-documented phenomenon. However, this does not imply that young voters will blindly follow national trends or mimic their parents' votes. Research has shown that young voters can have distinct political preferences and priorities . By lowering the voting age, Missouri would provide young individuals with the opportunity to express their unique perspectives and contribute to the diversity of voices in local and school board elections.
The claim that lowering the voting age to 16 in local and school board elections would result in young individuals merely copying their parents' votes is inaccurate. Granting voting rights to 16- and 17-year-olds in Missouri recognizes their capacity for independent decision-making and fosters a sense of civic responsibility. Young voters have the ability to evaluate candidates based on their performance and form their own political opinions.
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5/8: MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS
"THEY DON'T CARE!"
The assertion that all 16 and 17-year-olds lack sufficient interest in their communities or local and school board elections to be granted the right to vote is a myth that does not align with the available evidence. Drawing upon research and expert opinions, we will demonstrate that young individuals possess the necessary civic engagement and political participation to make informed decisions and contribute to our nation’s process of an operating constitutional republic.
Contrary to the myth, research has shown that many 16 and 17-year-olds are actively engaged in their communities and demonstrate an interest in political affairs. Studies have indicated that adolescents possess the cognitive capacity and political knowledge to vote responsibly. Moreover, research has shown that participation in activities such as volunteering and discussions about voting and elections can create a foundation for civic participation. By granting 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote, Missouri would further encourage their civic engagement and foster a sense of responsibility towards their communities.
Examining the experiences of other countries can provide valuable insights into the political participation of young individuals. For example, studies conducted in West Java, Indonesia, have shown an increase in the political participation of youth in regional elections. These findings challenge the notion of political apathy among young people and highlight their willingness to engage in the democratic process when given the opportunity. By granting 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote, Missouri can tap into the potential of young individuals and foster a culture of active citizenship.
While concerns about political apathy among young people exist, it is important to recognize that apathy is not exclusive to any age group. Efforts should be made to address apathy through comprehensive civic education programs and initiatives that promote political awareness and engagement among all age groups. Oftentimes, low voter turnout rates amongst younger demographics are cited by critics as evidence of young voter apathy; however, this is yet another logical fallacy. To learn more about our position and research about what causes low voter turnout rates amongst younger demographics, along with exactly why Vote16MO will improve those turnout rates, see the "Increasing Civic Engagement" section of "Why Lower the Age?" on this site! Granting 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote can serve as a catalyst for increased political participation and encourage a lifelong habit of civic engagement.
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6/8: MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS
"THEY CAN GET INVOLVED IN OTHER WAYS!"
While some argue that young individuals can engage in civic activities other than voting, it is crucial to recognize that voting is a fundamental right of all contributing citizens. We assert that extending voting rights to 16- and 17-year-olds in Missouri is vital to acknowledge their civic engagement, promote participation, and ensure a more inclusive and representative republic. Drawing on research and expert opinions, evidence demonstrates that young individuals are capable of meaningful civic involvement and should be granted the right to vote.
Research indicates that 16- and 17-year-olds are actively engaged in their communities and exhibit an interest in political affairs. They actively participate in activities such as volunteering, community involvement, and discussions about voting and elections. This level of engagement reflects their commitment to their communities and their desire to contribute to the democratic process. By granting them the right to vote, Missouri would both acknowledge and encourage their civic engagement, fostering a sense of responsibility and active citizenship.
To put it in simpler terms: While we agree that young people can engage in other forms of civic participation, there's no reason why voting and civic engagement should be mutually exclusive for them. Voting is a fundamental right of citizens who actively participate and contribute to their communities, and 16- and 17-year-olds are a significant part of that group. They can engage in multiple civic activities simultaneously, just as one can walk and chew gum at the same time.
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7/8: MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS
"THIS WILL TAKE AWAY PARENTS' RIGHTS!"
The claim that lowering the voting age to 16 in local and school board elections will eliminate or reduce parental rights is not supported by the available evidence. Lowering the voting age to 16 in Missouri will not undermine parental rights but instead increase parental awareness and strengthen the relationship between parents, their children, and the school district. Drawing upon research and expert opinions, the evidence demonstrates that involving young individuals in the democratic process can foster parental engagement and promote a more inclusive educational environment.
Lowering the voting age to 16 can increase parental awareness and involvement in local and school board elections. Research has shown that when young individuals are given the opportunity to vote, it sparks conversations within families about local political issues and encourages parents to engage in discussions with their children. This increased dialogue can lead to a deeper understanding of the local political landscape and foster a sense of shared responsibility for the community and the education system . By involving 16-year-olds in the voting process, parents become more aware of their children's perspectives and concerns, leading to a more informed and engaged parental community.
Extending voting rights to 16-year-olds can also strengthen the relationship between parents, their children, and the school district. Research has shown that parental involvement in education positively impacts student outcomes. Allowing 16-year-olds to vote in school board elections provides an avenue for parents to collaborate with their children in shaping educational policies and decisions. This shared participation can foster a sense of partnership between parents and the school district, leading to improved communication, trust, and a more inclusive educational environment. By involving young individuals in the electoral process, parents and schools can work together to address the needs and concerns of students effectively.
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8/8: MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS
"THE VOTING AGE MUST COINCIDE WITH THE MILITARY/DRAFT AGE!"
This assertion lacks merit due to the separation of military conscription or enlistment from local government authority. The case for lowering the voting age to 16 in Missouri examines the independent civic engagement and rights of contributing citizens, avoiding federal matters like military conscription.
One crucial factor that distinguishes local elections from federal ones is the local government's limited authority over military conscription or enlistment. Simply put: The Mayor and City Council are not the ones who wage war or call a draft. The latter is solely a federal matter, thus making it unreasonable to tether the voting age to the military enlistment age. Young people aged 16 and 17, who may be ineligible for military service, are nevertheless active members of their communities, working, paying taxes, and contributing to society. Denying them the right to vote in local and school board elections due to an unrelated federal matter is a disservice to their civic rights.
Local government's lack of authority over military conscription or enlistment implies that the voting age in local and school board elections should not be tied to military age requirements. The purpose of local elections is to ensure representation and accountability within the community, focusing on issues such as education, infrastructure, and public services. These responsibilities are distinct from military service, which falls under federal jurisdiction. Therefore, it is logical to separate the voting age from military conscription or enlistment age.
However, it is important to note that 17-year-olds can join the military with parental consent.