Is our democracy truly representative if large portions of our population consistently fail to make their voices heard at the polls? 18-24 year olds consistently turn out to vote at the lowest levels of any age group, and yet these are the voters who will live the longest with the policy decisions being made today: how can we improve voter turnout and civic engagement in the next generation to ensure our democracy is truly "by the people and for the people?" To answer this question, we must turn to another group whose voices are not heard at the ballot box, but for different reasons: 16- and 17-year-olds. Millions of 16- and 17-year-olds are tax-paying citizens; they demonstrate similar levels of civic knowledge and efficacy as 18-year-olds, and they are all enrolled in compulsory civic education courses which urge them to take informed action as citizens of the world. It comes to this: there is no valid reason to deny 16- and 17-year-olds the franchise, and extending voting rights to them would not only rectify this disenfranchisement, it would also increase the participation of young voters as a whole, helping to fulfill the promise that our nation is democratic and equitable. Successful efforts to lower the voting age have started at a local, grassroots level, and so my case study aims to ascertain the attitudes and competencies of individuals who would be affected by this change in the public education system in Toledo, Ohio by conducting interviews and gathering relevant data.
Integrated Social Studies Education
First Advisor Department
School of Teaching and Learning
Second Advisor Department
McHugh, Nolan, "For Our Future: Why Suffrage Must be Extended to Disenfranchised Youth" (2022). Honors Projects. 698.
Accompanying video essay with focus group and one-on-one interviews as well as researcher commentary