In the spring of 1971, Congress passed the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and four months later, President Richard Nixon signed it into law. Implemented four years before the end of the Vietnam War, this extension of the Voting Rights Act lowered the minimum age for casting a ballot from 21 to 18.

Brought about by years of outcry over the fact that America’s youth could be sent off to war without the right to vote in elections, the new amendment brought the youngest demographic of voters ever into the electorate. Decades later, America’s youths struggle for a place in the debates that affect them most. Young people who actively try to engage with their government are turned away by those who make up the government. It’s time to make them listen. It’s time to lower the voting age to 16.

While some may be apprehensive about handing the hypothetical reins of democracy over to the youngest demographic of voters yet, there is little evidence to validate those concerns. Psychological studies conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information have shown that one’s logical reasoning centers are fully matured by the time an individual reaches the age of 16.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for a 16-year-old’s “hot” cognition centers. Associated with under-pressure decision-making and other heat-of-the-moment functions, these parts of the brain are not fully developed until the age of 22, according to a 2009 Temple University study. Since impulse control centers in a teenager’s brain are not fully developed at the age of 16, they’re still bound to make mistakes every now and then. This fact, however, does not support an argument against letting them vote in elections. If 18-year-olds are allowed to vote despite having immature decision-making centers, why should a 16-year-old be barred from doing so?

Additionally, it’s worth noting that for the most part, the decisions made in the voting booth are not ones made in the heat of the moment. In the months leading up to an election, those in the race for office commit to lengthy information campaigns that make their positions known to the voters. The chance that someone could avoid information about an election throughout the months leading up to it, then find their way to a polling station, and cast a vote at random is so unfathomably small it isn’t worth exploring.

We’re exposed to political messaging everywhere – social media, television, bus stops, etc. The information is readily available for someone to make an informed decision.

(If you doubt this, consider the Ohio man recently profiled by The New York Times who’s shut himself off from all political news since Nov. 8, 2016 – to keep his cone of silence intact, he’s had to listen to white noise in coffee shops and ask his mom to screen her topics of conversation.)

The only people casting their votes in the heat of the moment are people who aren’t up to the task of performing their civic duties.

Again, a declaration that characterizes 16-year-olds as apathetic zombies who’re unable to handle the responsibility of voting is meaningless. Teenagers are disengaged because no one is willing to engage with them. A sure way to make young adults invested in their society and its institutions is to give them a hand in shaping it. The best way to make someone responsible is to give them responsibilities.

Fears that young voters wouldn’t take their responsibilities as voters seriously are also ill-founded. In places where they’re allowed to do so, 16- and 17-year-olds are very likely to vote. In fact, teenagers in Austria and Brazil (where it’s legal to vote from the age of 16 upward) vote in greater volume than older young adults. That’s not exclusively a foreign occurrence, either. Demographic breakdowns in Takoma Park, a city in Maryland where 16- and 17-year-olds are permitted to vote in local elections, reveal that eligible minors are twice as likely as 18-year-olds to participate in elections. Assuming there are teenagers outside of Takoma Park, there’s an enormous potential electorate being left untapped.

Many people have their political awakening at or around the age of 16. Why not let them participate in their democracy’s electoral processes? If that enthusiasm among young voters exists, we’re going to need it. Just over half of all eligible voters cast their vote in the 2016 presidential election. Say what you will about its outcome, it’s made the youth more engaged in politics than at any other point in recent history. Dismissing an entire cross-section of the population because they hold no power in the electoral system is the perfect way to radicalize them.

If they want to vote, let them.