Why Not Let Kids Vote?

[US] Federal Aviation Association guidelines stipulate that nobody over the age of 65 can hold a pilot’s licence, even if any such individual over that age is competent to fly a plane. For public policy reasons, it is better to impose a blanket restriction on possibly competent pilots than to risk errors that could result in serious harms. (more; also)

I’ve posted before on how ignorant voters hurt election outcomes. One obvious solution is to restrict voting to folks who know more, such as via education, tests of knowledge, etc. But most folks are pretty hostile to this idea – many even oppose requiring voters to show up with a valid photo ID. Such folks point out that any harm is limited by the fact that elections can average out a lot of random noise, and that apparently ignorant folks can still vote their interests effectively by copying trusted associates. All of which is true.

But oddly these same folks usually oppose lowering the minimum voting age to say ten. Even though they’d strongly oppose a maximum voting age of say ninety, the age where only 10% of folks can answer a simple math question. In the latest Political Studies, Joanne Lau says we should let kids vote if we let similarly impaired old folks vote:

The right to vote is fundamental to democratic citizenship; it is one of the most important badges of political and legal equality. However, we deny it to children, generally without discussion. … Whatever level of capacity we use for the disenfranchisement of children should be used in symmetrical fashion to disenfranchise the elderly. … If we attribute responsibility to children in the legal domain, we should also attribute it to them in the political domain. (more)

Surely the typical ten year old is as able to vote their interest as the typical ninety year old or the typical voter who can’t manage to show up to vote with a photo ID. Yes, many ten year olds would be influenced by their parents, though some would vote opposite, just to spite their parents. On average this would give the fertile more political influence. But this seems to me a cheap way to encourage fertility, which we should want to do anyway.

So why the opposition to kid voting? Well clearly some is those who see fertile folk as their political opponents. But there must also be a wider distaste, which I interpret as adults again wanting to affirm their high status over kids. As I said before:

We have “free speech,” a right only enjoyed by adult citizens in good standing, a right we jealously guard, wondering if corporations etc. “deserve” it. This right seems more a status marker, like the right to vote, than a way to promote idea competition. … Which is why support for “free speech” is often paper thin, fluctuating with the status of proposed speakers. (more)

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