Tufts Professor: I Just Want Kids To Vote Before Age 18 And Before They Leave School

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Peter Levine, the Associate Dean for Research and Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs in Tufts University, told Talk Radio 1210 WPHT midday host Dom Giordano that he is in favor of lowering the voting age to 16 or 17.

“I just want to get kids to vote the first time while they’re still in school. I don’t want to push the voting age way down. I just want them to vote before they turn 18, because then we can teach them to vote, teach them how the process works, and teach them to vote responsibly by, for example, getting up to speed on the issues before they vote.”

Levine cites evidence that he has that says that following the news and voting are habits, but “18 is a particularly bad year to get people into the habit.”

While he thinks that you do in fact have the right not to vote and if the age would be lowered a large number of kids not vote, he says he just wants to improve the voter turnout of the youth.

“The proportion of 18-year-olds in California who voted last time was six percent. So, there’s a bunch of kids out there who know more than that and could vote, especially if they were taught to. We just want to get the turnout up from six percent up to something a little more decent…I don’t think everybody has to vote, and I think if you really don’t know what’s going on you shouldn’t vote, but I think our turnout — which is among the lowest in the world for a real democracy — is too low. It means a lot of people are simply left out of our political discussion.”

For Levine, it comes down to teaching people their duty to vote will get people to keep voting.

“We have to encourage people by actually teaching them their duty. People respond pretty well when they’re actually encouraged to vote, when somebody tells them they should vote and when somebody gives them information, which is something that we can do in schools, but we are leaving a lot of people to go through life without actually being encouraged or shown their duty. It is in fact about duty. I want kids in school to be told, ‘There’s an election, it’s really your duty to vote, and it’s also your duty to be informed and the election is coming up.’”

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