Around the globe, governments are experimenting with lowering the voting age to 16-years-old as a way to turn around recent declines in civic participation. However, one concern is that younger voters will be more susceptible to parental and community influence. We used voter records from two U.S. states to explore stability and change in partisan identifications as a function of age in order to assess the likelihood that younger voters are more susceptible to social influences. In general, little evidence was found to suggest that teenagers' partisan identifications are substantially more influenced by families, communities, and historical events than older adults. In a final set of analyses, we examined partisan identification from voter records in Takoma Park, Maryland after it lowered the voting age to 16. To test for an effect of lowered voting age, we compared household voting patterns over time in Takoma Park to those in Maryland and Pennsylvania. A time series analysis did not show any difference between patterns in Takoma Park and patterns in Maryland and Pennsylvania, suggesting that lowering the voting age had no discernable impact on partisan identifications. The paper contributes to the expanding research base indicating that lowering the voting age has no apparent ill-effects on young people or their communities and will increase the political representation of an age cohort that can vote responsibly.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Partisan identification
- Political affiliation
- Voting age