Let’s lower the voting age to 16


To the editor:

I am a 40-year veteran in organizing and leading teen empowerment programs in New York City.

We currently have state legislation which would lower the voting age to 16 in New York state and city elections.

By allowing our young to participate in our electoral franchise, we will be introducing a new civics right of passage, and honoring an unfulfilled “IOU” to not just an emergent generation, but to all people who are facing daunting challenges.

Lowering the voting age is an invitation to join with friends and neighbors in proposed problem-solving suggestions. Expanding the franchise across generations is an opportunity to improve upon our chronically low turnout rates in local elections.

Municipalities which have lowered the voting age to 16 in elections have seen substantial increases in turnout rates sustained over time. Lowering the voting age would also introduce older voters to the issues seriously impacting the lives of the young, such as the lack of civic education in schools.

Introducing students to research, dialogue, debate and consensus will develop the essential skill base to produce informed and focused voters. Schools would become encouraged to introduce more quality civic programs.

Traditional societies have had rites of passage embedded in their cultural practices in order to develop and sustain best practices for optimal individual development and sustaining successful societies over time.

In our nation — during the onset of increasing anxiety, apathy and reliance on false solutions — a passionate and educated emergent electorate will help establish a foundation for prime time citizenship, and equal opportunity across all age groups for envisioning and shaping our shared futures.

Alfred Kurland

Alfred Kurland