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Charlotte Corday

Minors: Should Children Be Allowed To Vote?

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Should there be a minimum voting age, and why?

Yes, there should. The purpose of voting is to make a decision on what course of action the government should take. Voting should be done by those who are competent to make such decisions; namely, those who can make rational and well-informed judgments. Children do not qualify because they are not sufficiently well-informed yet.

Or, to put it another way, on what moral/political grounds do we limit the vote to certain members of the populace?

First, I do not agree that this is putting the previous question another way. First you have to know if you have the moral right to limit the vote; if the answer is yes, then you decide whether to do it or not, and in what way.

Now, as I told you on the government property thread, I believe that a truly legitimate government is one based on the unanimous consent of all citizens--so that, in effect, the citizens own the government much like stockholders own a corporation. This gives the citizens the right to limit the vote in whatever ways they agree to limit it.

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Yes, there should. The purpose of voting is to make a decision on what course of action the government should take. Voting should be done by those who are competent to make such decisions; namely, those who can make rational and well-informed judgments. Children do not qualify because they are not sufficiently well-informed yet.

Actually I think this is kinda baseless statement. First of all, not all adults can take all factors into consideration and make a rational and well-informed decisions. And these days 14-16 year olds are not ignorant of what is happening around the world.

At any rate, I think the voting age should be lowered. 18 is a bit too much.

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on what moral/political grounds do we limit the vote to certain members of the populace?

Knowingly voting in an irresponsible, for an immoral candidate who will pervert the purpose of government, is a sanction of the immoral acts, and under certain circumstances (having to do with what you know about the candidate) constitutes an act of aggression. Because the government has special powers and a lot of guns, it is obligatory that the individuals controlling that power understand what is required of them. Certain members of the populace cannot be assumed to be capable of making such judgments about a person's character, especially children are incapable of making such judgments.

Age is a crude means of making that judgment, but the libertarians would have a field day if a basic competence test were used to determine whether a potential voter is an idiot, instead of something mindless and automatic like age, so no rational alternative to the current system is possible.

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Actually I think this is kinda baseless statement. First of all, not all adults can take all factors into consideration and make a rational and well-informed decisions.

Now just WHERE did I say that all adults are competent to vote??

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I believe that a truly legitimate government is one based on the unanimous consent of all citizens--so that, in effect, the citizens own the government much like stockholders own a corporation. This gives the citizens the right to limit the vote in whatever ways they agree to limit it.

I don't see how this could be practical in a large country like the US, or even a small one. Does every single citizen get a veto on every single government decision?

As for voting age, I tend to think there should be some sort of a test rather than an age limit. Even a simple multiple-choice test on the basic structure and function of government would weed out a lot of clueless people.

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Yes, there should. The purpose of voting is to make a decision on what course of action the government should take. Voting should be done by those who are competent to make such decisions; namely, those who can make rational and well-informed judgments. Children do not qualify because they are not sufficiently well-informed yet.

Okay, we’ll rule out children as “not sufficiently well-informed yet.” On the same grounds, shouldn’t we also rule out anyone who thinks the federal government is constitutionally empowered to provide universal health care, public housing, and wage and price controls? Couldn’t we argue, “Democrats and Republicans do not qualify because they are not sufficiently well-informed yet”?

First, I do not agree that this is putting the previous question another way. First you have to know if you have the moral right to limit the vote; if the answer is yes, then you decide whether to do it or not, and in what way.

Then how would someone who says “children do not qualify” know that he has “the moral right to limit the vote”?

Now, as I told you on the government property thread, I believe that a truly legitimate government is one based on the unanimous consent of all citizens--so that, in effect, the citizens own the government much like stockholders own a corporation. This gives the citizens the right to limit the vote in whatever ways they agree to limit it.

If “the unanimous consent of all citizens” is required, then children could not be denied the vote if a lone citizen favored their enfranchisement.

Age is a crude means of making that judgment, but the libertarians would have a field day if a basic competence test were used to determine whether a potential voter is an idiot, instead of something mindless and automatic like age, so no rational alternative to the current system is possible.

In fact, I belong to the branch of libertarians who regard democracy as antithetical to individual liberty. Far from opposing “a basic competence test,” I say the fewer voters, the better. While I don’t think that decision about my life and property should be made by a majority of any group, I’d much rather see voters certified on the basis of, say, property ownership than the mere ability to sign one’s name.

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Okay, we’ll rule out children as “not sufficiently well-informed yet.”  On the same grounds, shouldn’t we also rule out anyone who thinks the federal government is constitutionally empowered to provide universal health care, public housing, and wage and price controls? Couldn’t we argue, “Democrats and Republicans do not qualify because they are not sufficiently well-informed yet”?

Under my proposed form of government, immigration and naturalization--and consequently, voting--would be restricted according to rules unanimously agreed upon by the people who are already citizens. This means that, yes, they could agree to rule out Marxists, Islamists, etc.

Then how would someone who says “children do not qualify” know that he has “the moral right to limit the vote”?

I don't really understand what you are asking here. FIRST you know you have the right to limit the vote; THEN you begin to ask who qualifies.

If “the unanimous consent of all citizens” is required, then children could not be denied the vote if a lone citizen favored their enfranchisement. 

Correct.

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CF, where are you going to find even 10 people who agree on every detail about how a country should be run? Just look at the debates on this forum ...

On the same grounds, shouldn’t we also rule out anyone who thinks the federal government is constitutionally empowered to provide universal health care, public housing, and wage and price controls? 

No; that's why we need to have a clearly written Constitution and courts that will enforce it properly. If people vote for a law that violates the Constitution the courts just throw it out.

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Now, as I told you on the government property thread, I believe that a truly legitimate government is one based on the unanimous consent of all citizens--so that, in effect, the citizens own the government much like stockholders own a corporation. This gives the citizens the right to limit the vote in whatever ways they agree to limit it.

A government should be based on objective and rational laws, not on consensus.

Besides, what if the citizens cannot agree on the right form of goverment (a situation which will most likely arise)?

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I am playing half a devil's adovcate here but...

As we are trustees of our children's rights, perhaps parents should be allowed to cast a vote not just for themselves but for each of their children until those children reach legal voting age. I wonder what the polls would predict about the outcome of November 2 were that the case?

BTW, thanks to Betsy for introducing the idea that parents are trustees of their children's rights. It clarified many things for me!

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No; that's why we need to have a clearly written Constitution and courts that will enforce it properly. If people vote for a law that violates the Constitution the courts just throw it out.

The courts will “just throw it out,” you say? Well that solves that problem. Or does it? What if voters, out of ignorance or opportunism, elect politicians who appoint judges who “find” Constitutional grounds for gun control, censorship, drug prohibition, business regulation, etc -- even when such grounds are non-existent?

One doesn’t have to study U.S. history very long to see that voting majorities have been easily and repeatedly bribed with welfare schemes by politicians, who in turn fill judicial benches with those inclined to interpret the Constitution as loosely and pragmatically as possible.

I don’t see what good it does to keep children out of the voting booth, if we enfranchise adults who are all too willing to let their errand boys in Washington run roughshod over constitutional safeguards against big government.

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Under my proposed form of government, immigration and naturalization--and consequently, voting--would be restricted according to rules unanimously agreed upon by the people who are already citizens. This means that, yes, they could agree to rule out Marxists, Islamists, etc.

So in a population of 1,000,000 citizens, 1,000,000 votes will be required to prohibit the immigration of Maxists, and 1,000,000 votes will be required to allow the immigration of Marxists? So, if Proposition A (to allow Marxists) has 600,000 votes, and Proposition B (to disallow Marxists) has 400,000 votes, do Marxists get to come in or not? After all, neither proposition is unanimously endorsed.

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And these days 14-16 year olds are not ignorant of what is happening around the world.

I guess my highschool experience was very different from your's. In my school all of the 14-16 year old guys were interested in video games, pot, and "getting laid", not world issues and politics. The girls weren't much better. Frankly I'd rather not have people in middle school deciding the fate of the nation.

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In my experience, the teens are the formative years for explicit philosophy. It takes a while, some college, some full-time work, some tax-paying for various aspects of political life to be less abtract.

Therefore, if it were up to me, I would roll back the 26th amendment to the US Constitution (which lowered the voting age to 18).

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Just limit voting to people who own property, its self regulating.Young kids are not mentally developed enough to know how to produce anything or own anything, so they wont be able to vote. Some will be able but it will be rare and those kids will probably have above average IQ or will have developed faster mentally so even if they do vote it wont be irrational.

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Just limit voting to people who own property

What type of property? Do you mean land and/or buildings?

I bought my first house well into my forties, even though I had an above average net asset position for years before that.

Or, are you using "property" in the more geenral sense of "asset" and suggesting that only people who have more than a certain amount of wealth should be allowed to vote?

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This is not philosophical, but I like the idea of granting teenagers around 16 years old a "quarter vote." I think it would get people involved in thinking about the political process, and that only the truly politically involved teens would take to vote anyway, as is the case with those 18 to 20.

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Yes, there should. The purpose of voting is to make a decision on what course of action the government should take.

The proper purpose of elections in a political system is to act as a check of last-resort against violations of the Constitution. The Constitution specifies the powers of government, and the job of politicians is to apply the Constitution, not follow public opinion. This is why the U.S. Constitution originally provided for direct election of the House of Representatives alone, and in most states, only wealthy landowners could vote. As our government corrupted into a democracy, politicians began appealing directly to the people, beginning with Andrew Jackson’s presidency - though some would argue it started with Jefferson.

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The courts will “just throw it out,” you say?  Well that solves that problem.  Or does it?  What if voters, out of ignorance or opportunism, elect politicians who appoint judges who “find” Constitutional grounds for gun control, censorship, drug prohibition, business regulation, etc -- even when such grounds are non-existent?

One doesn’t have to study U.S. history very long to see that voting majorities have been easily and repeatedly bribed with welfare schemes by politicians, who in turn fill judicial benches with those inclined to interpret the Constitution as loosely and pragmatically as possible.

True enough; the only solution to that is constant education on the part of philosophers and other leaders so that voters are not so ignorant.

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CF, where are you going to find even 10 people who agree on every detail about how a country should be run? Just look at the debates on this forum ...

"Mr. Ford, where are you going to find even 10 people who agree on every detail about what a car should look like?"

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So in a population of 1,000,000 citizens, 1,000,000 votes will be required to prohibit the immigration of Maxists, and 1,000,000 votes will be required to allow the immigration of Marxists? So, if Proposition A (to allow Marxists) has 600,000 votes, and Proposition B (to disallow Marxists) has 400,000 votes, do Marxists get to come in or not? After all, neither proposition is unanimously endorsed.

Only the constitution, and amendments to the constitution, needs unanimity. If the constitution says that immigration laws can be passed with the approval of 80% of the citizens, then a proposition to disallow Marxists will require 800,000 votes to pass. (And that which is not disallowed is allowed, of course.)

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