Today, I voted in the Minnesota Primary election.
It was my first time doing it in person, and not absentee, which was special. It was the first time I got a sticker. It was the first time I got to look around and see other citizens doing their civic duty, and it got me thinking.
I know, a woman thinking, it’s a dangerous thing.
But it got me thinking nonetheless.
Why is the voting age 18?
I mean, when you think about it, the age of consent varies by state. The most common age of consent is 16. If we, as a nation, say that 16 year old kids can have sex (and let’s pretend for a collective moment that we actually have any say over when people have sex) and can potentially become parents before they’re 17, then why the heck can’t those 16 year old kids vote? They’re fine to have sex, to potentially raise kids, but god forbid they tried to impact legislation that could affect their relationships, their bodies, or their children.
Or, hold on for a second, as we tangent into the messed up ways the United States allows child exploitation–why don’t we let all married people vote? If you’re old enough to get married, you should be old enough to vote, yeah?
Especially since, with the exception of Delaware and New Jersey, every single state allows children under 18 to be married. Sherry Johnson, a Florida resident, was 11 when she was forced into a marriage with a man nine years her senior.
According to an article by The Economist, “More than 207,000 American minors were married between 2000 and 2015, according to an investigation by Frontline, a television programme. Over two-thirds were 17 years old, but 985 were 14, and ten were just 12. Twenty-seven states have no minimum age for marriage.”
I wonder what those kids would focus on, legislation-wise, if they had the power to cast a ballot. (Probably not tax-cuts, that’s for sure.)
But those children don’t have the power to vote. Undocumented immigrants don’t have the power to vote. Teen parents don’t always have the power to vote. But I do. And, I’m guessing, the majority of you do to. So make it count. Make your vote not just about yourself. Make it about making the United States a better, safer, stronger place for everyone. Make it so that the deeply flawed country we live in becomes a little less flawed.
We (and by “we” I mean everyone of legal age to vote, with proper identification and access to a polling location) have a responsibility to those who cannot cast their own ballots.
And white women, while I have your attention? Let’s redeem ourselves. We can do better. (Seriously, OH MY GOD, 54% of us voted for a known sexual predator last election.)
Also maybe we should change the voting age to age of consent because you know what? That kind of was a solid argument on my part. (And we should totally just ban child marriage because that’s child abuse and it enables pedophiles.)