An Argument Against Lowering the Voting Age, and Why It Stinks
Posted by Michael Dickens on March 21, 2010
Inspired by this page.
A common argument against lowering the voting age is that it isn’t a burden to wait a few years. Denying youth the right to vote isn’t the same as denying women or racial minorities, according to opponents, since in a few years young people will grow up and be able to vote. Why go through the trouble to lower the age to 16 when after two years they’ll be able to vote anyways? Were it that simple, then perhaps, but it isn’t.
Would it be acceptable to limit the right to vote to those with a certain income, reasoning that it is a flexible standard, those will less income must only work harder or wait till they too make enough to vote? No it wouldn’t.
This author is correct in his conclusion, but I do not like his supporting logic. His analogy to income is somewhat different. Simply increasing your income is not guaranteed, and requires hard work; aging is guaranteed and in fact requires very little effort. Still, though, saying that it isn’t a burden to wait a few years is a rather terrible argument. What if people were not allowed to vote from ages 25 to 30? They only have to wait “a few years” to get through that period. But besides the complete pointlessness of the restriction, it would be wrong. People aged 26 to 30 are completely capable of voting and they must live within the system and pay taxes. The same logic applies to people aged 14 to 18, or 16 to 18, or whatever lower voting age we would use (I rather like 14).
The original author stated, “Denying youth the right to vote isn’t the same as denying women or racial minorities, according to opponents, since in a few years young people will grow up and be able to vote.” The main problem here is that denial should not be the default response. The default response should be enfranchisement. Any time someone living within the system is not allowed to vote, there must be a very good reason for it. Young children, for instance, would be too easily persuaded by malicious people to vote for one candidate or the other. But what about older children? They live in society, so they should get a vote. It’s that simple. It is an injustice to prevent someone from voting unless there is a very good reason for it. Therefore, opponents of lowering the voting age should not be arguing that it’s not a big deal; rather, they should be arguing that it is a big deal, because people under 18 are incompetent.