The case for allowing children to vote

Writing on Crooked Timber, John Quiggin (previously) responds to the epidemic of elderly reactionaries piling vitriol and violent rhetoric on the child activist Greta Thunberg and asks, why not let kids vote?

Quiggin points out that all the arguments against letting kids vote are also arguments for preventing older adults from voting: "Over 60 voters are, on average, poorly educated (the school leaving age in Australia was 15 when they went through and I assume similar in most places), and more likely to hold a wide range of false beliefs (notably in relation to climate change)."

Older voters delivered Brexit, Trump, Boris Johnson, Pauline Hanson, and "respond to unrealistic appeals to nostalgia, wanting to Make America Great Again, and restore the glories of the British Empire, while dismissing concerns about the future."

He says all of this isn't an argument for banning older voters, but for including younger people in elections. He points out that one of the main arguments against this — that enfranchising teens will merely give an extra vote to their parents — is the same argument that was deployed against giving women votes (that it would end up being an extra vote for their husbands and fathers).

Of course, we can't do that kind of thing in a democracy,. That's why we should act consistently with the core democratic principle that those affected by a decision should have a say in making it, unless they are absolutely disqualified in some way. In my view, that makes an open-and-shut case for lowering the voting age to 16.

But where should we stop? If we set the bar at the level of emotional maturity and intelligence shown by say, the crowd at a Trump rally, most 12 year olds would clear it with ease.

Give children the vote [John Quiggin/Crooked Timber]