A Constitutional amendment enacted during the Vietnam war, when young people were killing and dying for a democracy they couldn’t participate in, sets the voting age as 18. But the exact wording makes this an upper limit.(“The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age”). Congress could lower the voting age further in federal elections without amending the Constitution again. States may set the voting age in state elections, but not in federal ones. What the courts would make of a law that gave teenagers the right to vote and then immediately took it away and assigned it to their parents, we can only imagine. But it surely would not go over well with teenagers themselves.
Is the average teenager responsible enough to deserve the most precious right of citizenship—the right to vote? Can we count on them to study the issues and the candidates, discuss and weigh them, and exercise this solemn privilege with the care it demands? Oh, probably not. But how about the average adult?