Biology supports raising, not lowering, voting age | READER COMMENTARY

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A vote is cast in Auckland, New Zealand. A lobby group seeking to lower New Zealand's voting age from 18 to 16 won a milestone victory Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, when the nation's Supreme Court found in its favor, ruling that the current law amounts to age discrimination against 16- and 17-year-olds. (Chris Gorman/New Zealand Herald via AP)

Regarding Jonathan Bernstein’s recent commentary suggesting lowering the voting age from the current 18 (”Lower the voting age, don’t raise it,” May 15), the following from the National Institutes of Health website is pertinent:

“Although the brain stops growing in size by early adolescence, the teen years are all about fine-tuning how the brain works. The brain finishes developing and maturing in the mid-to-late 20s. The part of the brain behind the forehead, called the prefrontal cortex, is one of the last parts to mature. This area is responsible for skills like planning, prioritizing, and making good decisions.”


By setting minimum age requirements for officeholders, both the U. S. and Maryland constitutions recognize that “maturing” and “making good decisions” are important for good governance. Within the federal government, members of the U.S. House of Representatives must be at least 25 years old, U.S. senators 30 and the president 35. For Maryland, the minimum age for state senators is 25, for delegates 21, and for governor 30.

One of the arguments for lowering the voting age from 21 was that 18-year-olds were drafted and they should have a say in the government forcing them into the military: “If they are old enough to fight, they are old enough to vote,” was the slogan. But conscription ended in the early 1970s.


The electorate that chooses government officials should have the maturity needed to select good candidates and make decisions about spending and other issues on the ballot. Raising the voting age merits serious discussion.

— Jerry Levin, Baltimore

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