Peter Levine's argument is that the United States should lower its voting age from 18 to 17 in order to promote informed voting, expand the national electorate, and, in turn, strengthen the nation's democracy as a whole.
Levine builds his argument that the US should lower its voting age to 17 by presenting the notion that high schools could encourage informed voting, utilizing specific examples in which younger voting ages have benefitted democracies and by examining the benefits of a lower voting age that could potentially be enjoyed by the United States. He first makes the claim that lowering the voting age would allow high schools to educate their students on how to be informed voters and create a cultural norm in American youth that encourages voting. Levine argues that because “voting is habitual,” the US could see higher turn-out rates in areas where “a majority of students believed that they should vote.” Not only will more people vote if the age limit is lowered to 17, Levine argues, but more informed people would also participate in elections because schools would have the opportunity to improve their students' “knowledge of the Constitution, the political system and current issues” prior to an election. These claims made by Levine are supported by his inclusion of specific examples in which lower voting ages have encouraged democratic participation. He notes that when Scotland lowered its voting age to 16, the “turnout in that age range was high.” This greatly contrasts his example of California, which, in the 2014 elections, saw a turnout of only “5.2 percent of eligible 18-year-olds.” He also notes the example that, when allowed to preregister at age 17, young voters were more likely to vote. A reform that encouraged students to branch out from simply voting blindly (if at all) and actually “broadened the youth electorate…to include more Republican voters.” Finally, Levine explains the impact that a lowered voting age could have on the US specifically. He claims that it would allow an opportunity to connect “civil learning in schools to an important act of citizenship,” which would in turn “boost informed participation in our democracy” long term, thus allowing the voices of us the youth to make American “policies and institutions better.”
Levine effectively utilizes credible evidence to support most of his claims, though there are some areas that lack credibility. His use of quote [sic] research conducted by political scientists such as that of Eric Plutzer, Mark Franklin, and John Holbein and Sunshine Hillygus was appropriate because Levine's argument centered around politics. As these sources were all experts in their field of political science, they were perfectly in position to support Levine's argument with their research and claims that proved “voting is habitual,” having the voting age of 18 may have been the “sole reason voter turnout has declined,” and that a lower age could potentially “broaden the youth electorate.” Levine's inclusion of examples from Scotland, Maryland, and Iowa were also effective as they supported his argument with historical evidence of successful attempts at lower voting ages. Finally, Levine's use of claims by college professors David E. Campbell, Daniel Hart, and Robert Atkins was somewhat effective because, as college professors, they're around young adults (the young voting demographic) all the time. However, because they are not proven to be experts in the political field and because there is no cited proof of their claims, their credibility to speak on the matter was lacking. Overall, however, Levine's evidence was both effective and credible with relative consistency throughout the argument.