Orange Street News



By Hilde Lysiak

Millions of Americans who were watching Wednesday night’s Democratic debate in Las Vegas are living without a basic constitutional right. 

They pay taxes and can be sentenced by judges to spend time in prison, but have no voice in the politicians who spend their money and make the laws that have been enforced on them.

How do I know? I am one of them.

By the time I turned thirteen years old, I had already paid A LOT in Federal Income taxes. And it doesn’t include the sales tax I spend every time I buy something at the store. It’s money I earned from publishing my own newspaper, the Orange Street News, which I’ve been publishing since I was eight years old. I’ve worked hard for this money. 

We need to lower the voting age.

The voting age in the country was last changed in 1971 when people 18 years old and older were granted the right to vote. Now is the time to do it again.

The primary argument against allowing teens to vote centers around the idea that they lack maturity or intelligence. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is the same logic used to keep women and african Americans from voting.

But this issue is about much more than the injustice of taxation without representation, it’s an issue of basic fairness.

For decades politicians on both sides of the aisle have spent money the country doesn’t have, racking up a debt of 22 trillion dollars. By 2030 that debt is expected to almost equal the entire Gross Domestic Product. Guess who is going to have to pay that debt? 

Today’s teen voters.

Perhaps most unfair of all is how teenagers can be tried, convicted and sentenced as adults. The age at which children can be tried in adult court varies from state to state, but most set the minimum at age 14. When convicted, those teens can receive sentences as severe as life without the possibility of parole. If society wants to treat teenagers as mature adults who should be held responsible for their crimes on sentencing day, how does it make sense to treat them as lesser than on Election Day? It doesn’t. 

Now no one is suggesting that young people should be entitled to all of the same rights and responsibilities as adults. I know I don’t want my peers behind the wheel of a car. But if teens are old enough to earn money and pay taxes— they are old enough to cast a vote on how that money is spent.

Politicians are supposed to represent the rights of the people that elect them and since teenagers can’t vote, they’re not represented.

So as I watched the politicians on stage discussing all the different ways of spending the money I earned through my hard work, all I can do is watch, report, and hope that enough voters or politicians read this message that it causes change.

Until then, let this be my formal request for a refund in income taxes I’ve paid over the last three years. But I won’t be holding my breath. 


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  2. Hilde,

    You raise an interesting point, but not one with an easy answer!

    If the general voting age was lowered so that you could get a side of ‘representation’ to go with your portion of ‘taxation’ it wound enfranchise millions of young people in the US, and it would probably lead to a political earthquake as teens put the same energy they normally put into other activities into politics.

    But as I see it you’re making a different argument – you saying that *anyone* who has an income that’s taxable should be able to vote. That would include children who get paid to appear in commercials, even very young children…unless their parents are cashing the cheques, which is probably next year’s scandal, and something you might care to investigate one day, but I digress…

    The real problem with the ‘anyone with enough income votes’ argument is that once you agree to it as an idea then sooner or later the definition of ‘enough’ will be used to stop people from voting. In the 18th and 19th centuries it was used to prevent pretty much *everyone* from voting, as many ‘democratic’ countries limited the vote to people who met thresholds for property and asset ownership.

    So while i sympathize with your plight, my recommendation is stop lobbying politicians, all of whom are terrified of the *idea* of a teen vote, and instead hire an accountant.. 🙂


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  4. Adam Jeffrey
    August 25, 2020

    Scientifically speaking, the brains of children and teens- and therefore their thoughts, actions, and their ability to make rational decisions, possibly- are differently modeled than the brains of older people. This may leave younger folk more easilly swayed by ideas and emotions many adults may have “become too mature” to harbor. But what jaded adults have abandoned, adults who have encountered the usual adversities in their journeys of intellectual- and financial- discovery in life, those young people who have yet to callous-over their aspirations of ideal things- things many adults who should know better refer to as “immature” ideas lol, may be especially suited to promote these things. I always remember the birth of so many currently mainstream awarenesses, things like environmentalism, were first brought to public prominence by the youth of a prior generation who would neither be silenced nor accept blithely the sops of their seniors that all was well with the world as it was, and to “sit down” & “shut up”.


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