Should Kids Be Allowed to Run for Office?

RJ Matson (illustration), bauhaus1000/Getty Images (bunting); Debate photos courtesy of families

On November 6, thousands of candidates will run for office across the U.S. They will have different ideas about how to solve problems. But nearly all of them will have one thing in common—they’ll be adults. By law, most elected officials must be at least 18 years old. That’s also the minimum age to vote in state and national elections.

Many people say age shouldn’t matter when it comes to having a job in government. Jack Bergeson is one of them. He is one of six teenagers who entered this year’s race for governor in Kansas.  

“The most important thing is caring for the people and having a strong vision,” Jack says.

But other people argue that candidates running for office should be old enough to actually vote. They also point out that teens can have a voice in government even without running for office. For example, young people can suggest ideas for new laws.

None of the teens in Kansas wound up on the ballot for governor. A new law will prevent kids in the state from running for office in the future. It sets the minimum age to run for governor at 25. That will leave Vermont as the only state with no age requirement for governor.

Here’s what two of our readers think.

Some people say kids don’t know enough about politics to run for office. I disagree. I’m learning about government in my social studies class, and I’m only 10. In a few years, I’ll know even more.

Also, kids have fresh ideas that adults might not have, especially about topics that affect young people. For example, kids might come up with good ideas about improving education since they’re still in school.

If teens want to run for office, what’s the harm? It would be up to the public to decide whether to vote them into office or not.

Teenagers don’t have enough experience to make laws that could affect millions of people. They should wait until they’re older and more qualified before they run for office.

Plus, the legal voting age in the United States is 18. You should be at least that age to run for office. Most of the teen candidates in Kansas wouldn’t even have been able to vote for themselves for governor!

Kids who want to get involved in politics can do other things. They can volunteer for a local politician. Or they can join their school’s student council, like I did.

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