How old should you be to vote?
When I turned 18, I wasn't old enough to vote.
I probably wasn't ready for the responsibility either.
But I was old enough to serve my country.
It was not long before I was en route to Korea.
I had to wait until I was 21 to vote.
Today, I could have voted at 18 – ready or not.
Many of us grew up in an age of young voters.
We have accepted that you could vote -– whether you did or not – at age 18.
Yet a troubling new question has arisen: How many voters under age 21 are sufficiently mature enough to make an informed decision on whom to vote for?
The voting age was lowered by Congress during the Vietnam War. This was based on the premise that those old enough to fight for their country should be old enough to vote.
New findings suggest this is a false premise today.
A new Pew Research Center analysis of surveys between October 2019 and June 2020 finds that those who rely most on social media for political news are less informed than the rest of us.
These so-called adults don’t know much about major news stories such as covid-19 and the 2020 presidential election.
As of late last year, 18% of US adults say they turn most to social media for political and election news. That’s lower than the 25% who use news websites but about on par with those who use cable TV (16%), local TV (16%), and higher than those who use network TV, radio and print newspapers. Adults who rely most on social media for news tend to be younger with lower levels of education.
8% who get political news from social media say they follow news about the 2020 election closely compared with 4 times as many who use cable TV (37%) and newspapers (33%).
The social media group and the local TV group are often comparable in their lower levels of engagement with and knowledge about important news.
At least 40% who use newspaper sites and other websites (45%), radio (42%) and printed newspapers (41%) for news have high political knowledge.
That should concern all of us in these divisive times and with a critical Presidential election coming up in 3 months
Should teenagers who show little interest in this high stakes election be in such an influential position to affect the results?
Please send your thoughts to JerryBellune@yahoo.com.
Chronicle Editor Emeritis Jerry Bellune's sometimes outrageous opinions appear weekly.