One of the most frustrating things that I had to deal with when I was a kid wasn't the fact that I was unable to legally smoke or drink booze (although I could have done that illegally if I wanted to, and besides, I don't smoke or drink anyways) or even that I couldn't legally drive a car until I was 16. It was the fact that until I turned 18 I didn't have the legal right to vote.
For years I wanted to vote, and I even asked my parents at certain points in time during my childhood if I could go with them to the voting place and vote for them. They of course always said no, and now I understand why (I wouldn't want someone else to use my vote either, even if it was my kid).
Still, even though I've been able to legally vote for thirteen years now (and have voted in most elections since then, including the four presidential elections I have been legally able to vote in), I still feel that at least certain young people under the age of 18 should be able to vote.
Now of course I don't feel that all teens under the age of 18 should automatically be given the right to vote. In fact I feel that only the ones who should be able to vote are the ones whom have done, or do certain things that in effect should have earned them the right to vote.
First, any one under the age of 18, has a job (and has had one for over six months), pays income taxes, and is in school, should be able to vote in all elections regardless of age. Not only would this encourage kids to stay in school, it would also encourage them to get jobs and earn their own money and get them to be less dependent on their parents at an earlier age. Also it would encourage them not sit around at home wasting their time playing video games and trolling the internet (and yes, I do see the irony in me saying that kids shouldn't spend so much time on the internet because this is posted on the internet, but how else am I going to spread this idea to the vast amount of the American public).
Second, any youth that is currently in the military (the military does allow people as young as 17 to join) or any youth currently in some other type of voluntary civil service (EMT, Fire & Rescue, etc.) should be allowed to vote as well. This would encourage more teens to volunteer to do things that would benefit the community and the nation as a whole, and they could even learn certain skills that could benefit them later in life.
Third and finally, anyone who has graduated from high school before the age of 18 should also be allowed to vote, regardless if they are employed or are involved in the military or a voluntary civil service. Not only would this encourage youth to work harder at school, it might also encourage them to go to collage sooner and work harder at collage as well.
Not only would giving youth a chance to earn the right to vote be beneficial to the youth of the nation, in the long run it might be beneficial to the nation as a whole.
It would not only instill and/or reinforce many positive aspects into the minds and hearts of our nation's teens (like volunteerism, the importance of education, having a job, and if you want something badly enough you need to earn it) it could create a generation of youth who would more benefit the nation then burden it, and instill the belief in them that they shouldn't take for granted certain rights (amongst other things) that we take for granted today.
In the end not only could giving certain teens who have earned the right to vote create a generation better then us in terms of education and financial resources, it could create an overall better society.