Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Should 16 and 17 year olds vote?

The title above says it all.  Should they be able to vote?  This piece by Daniel Hart and Robert Atkins argues that these teenagers below 18 are capable of voting.  From the abstract:
Analyses of national survey data demonstrate that by 16 years of age—but not before— American adolescents manifest levels of development in each quality of citizenship that are approximately the same as those apparent in young American adults who are allowed to vote. 
As the father of two bright and annoying teens, a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old, I can buy into this. Unfortunately, I can't access the full article and judge the reasoning as well as I'd like, such as comparisons of political sophistication by age.  Then again, given the infamous lack of political knowledge found in general among the electorate, my hunch is dropping the age of voting could only improve matters.  Or at least not hurt.


Nick said...

I've never believed age to be an accurate measure of maturity. There are some 16 year olds that I'd rather see voting than 30 year olds. Still, I suppose we're beyond political knowledge tests for voting.

Hollander said...

Unfortunately, maturity is not a constitutional requisite for voting. Nor even easy to measure. We're stuck with age, and I'm fairly sure we'll never see the age lowered.

Now, the question is, controlling for everything else, is a 16-year-old as capable as an 18-year-old in voting? Probably not. Then again, an 18-year-old is probably not as capable as a 25-year old. After that, age probably is no longer a factor. So an argument could be made, I suppose, for raising the voting age to 25 -- the point psychologists tell us the brain actually "matures" into adulthood.

bethany said...

I agree with you on this one. If we let stupid adults have a say, we should let older teens in too, you might even say they have more at stake in policy decisions than older voters. I was so frustrated to be 17.5 for the 2000 election, and the results of that election definitely affected me and others of my generation.

Hollander said...

My son also missed voting by two months in the 2010 election, and there's no good reason, other than legal, that he couldn't vote.