Monitoring the Midterms: Should the voting age be 16?

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

For the latest on the 2018 midterm elections, check out NewsHour Extra’s #MonitoringTheMidterms series, a set of civics’ resources that encourage critical thinking among educators and students.

Writing opportunity! If one of your students would like to write a short blog post for NewsHour Extra’s Student Voice blog stating a position on whether or not the voting age should be changed to 16, please email Victoria Pasquantonio, education editor, at [email protected]. Please be sure the student cc’s you in the email.

Directions: Read the summary below first, then watch the video and answer the discussion questions.

Vote16DC is a coalition  of youth and adults in Washington D.C. with one goal in mind: to lower the voting age to 16 in the nation’s capital. Tiffany Missembe, 16, testified at a public hearing recently in favor of changing the voting age and directs Vote16DC. Missembe says young people pay taxes, work, drive cars and are mature enough to make an informed decision in the ballot box. NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs youth journalism program covered the event, which was picked up by Teen Vogue here. A previous NewsHour story discussed the issue in detail here.

These DC-area teens want to lower the voting age to 16 from Student Reporting Labs on Vimeo.


Answer the discussion questions as a class, in your journal or with a partner.

1. Essential question: How will changing the voting age to 16 encourage more civic participation?

2. What are the main reasons given for lowering the voting age to 16? Can you think of any reasons that were not stated in this piece?

3. Do you support Vote16DC’s efforts to change the voting age to 16 in the District of Columbia? Why or why not?

4. Do you support changing the voting age to 16 in your state? Why or why not?

5. What other efforts have been made to lower the voting age to 16? If you’re not sure, how could you find out?

6. Media literacy question: The story provides various reasons why the voting age should be lowered to 16, but we don’t hear from those who support keeping it at 18. Why do you think that is the case? How could you find other voices who would like to keep 18 as the legal voting age?

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