Friday, June 28, 2013

Young Voting Update: Scotland!

OK, I admit, I haven't been following the upcoming referendum on Scottish Independence. If it's not about aliens trying to win Wimbledon by turning everyone into...oh, never mind. It just hasn't been on my radar.

Until now! Because they've extended the franchise for that election to 16 and 17 year-olds.
103 MSPs voted for the bill with 12 voting against it.

The legislation will allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in next year's Scottish independence referendum.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish government had long wished to extend the referendum franchise and this bill was a "crucial first step towards next year's historic poll".

Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson said: "Scottish Labour strongly supports the principle of giving 16 and 17 year olds the vote and believes the right should be extended to all elections".
Well, first Tacoma Park, and now this. One more, and we'll have a certified trend. Good for Scotland.



    One of the all-time greatest sketches.


  2. I can't recall your exact position on this. Do you think there should be any age restriction on voting? The more I think about it, I'm not sure why even small children should be denied the right assuming we can assess what their preferences are.

  3. Obviously this is a bad thing as a general principle; the vote is a public duty, not a private interest, and children are hardly good trustees.

    That said, I would very much like to be rid of that region, with its corrupt politics, chronic dependency, and huge drain on our taxes. As the SNP favours this measure, they no doubt think that it makes independence more likely, in which case it's fine by me. However, if (as is likely) the referendum fails, then it's possible this will be used as a precedent by the usual suspects to undermine democracy in the name of "electoral reform."

  4. It ain't gonna happen anytime soon in this country, I can tell you that. For one thing, the results would be unpredictable, and so it will scare members of both parties. Of those kids who choose to exercise their newfound right, I suspect that a lot of them will just vote the way their parents do. (The earliest presidential election I can remember was 1988 when I was 11, and I felt disappointed when Dukakis lost. But I really knew nothing about the candidates' positions or anything; I just knew that my parents favored Dukakis and assumed they must be right.) In effect, voters with more children will have an electoral advantage over those with fewer or no children. At least until the kids reach their teens.

    It also sounds like an idea that would be subject to ridicule. Pundits would probably begin calling it "the playground vote," and soon there'd be SNL skits and Onion articles about children voting to lengthen recess or ban algebra.

    Finally, it would raise the issue of how much control parents would have over their children's vote. I could see some parents threatening their children to vote a certain way. My mother once had an elderly friend who had a son with Down's Syndrome. Though in his mid-40s, he had the emotional maturity of a child. Being a Democrat, she tried to prevent him from voting, since he had become a conservative from listening to talk radio. My parents privately considered what she did very unethical. But it's the kind of thing that could easily happen if children were given the ability to vote.

    1. The above post was intended as a reply to Nathan Dennis.

    2. I don't think its acceptable as a matter of principal to prevent someone from voting because you don't like the choices you think they will make.

    3. Kylopod,

      I suggested below that the elderly would vote against independence because short-term disruptions (particularly to their pensions) would outweigh their stated desire for a "free Scotland"; the youth would surely be more willing to take a chance on near-term hiccups in exchange for realized national self-identification.

      Without making a judgment on which is 'better', I'm curious why we would conclude that the older citizen's self-interest is more statesmanlike than the young citizen's. Is it merely an application of legal agency logic?

      The two otherwise seem exactly the same to me.

    4. The point isn't about which is better, it's about which is already part of the status quo. Old people have had the right to vote since the beginning of the Republic, whereas schoolkids have never had that right, and there isn't some well of support for creating that right the way there was with blacks in the 1860s or 1960s. The idea would probably scare most people because of its unpredictable results, and most kids themselves aren't exactly clamoring for this right (or at least it falls well at the bottom of things most kids are clamoring to do).

  5. I don't know if this has already been mentioned/remarked already, but in Brazil voting is optional for 16 and 17 year olds and mandatory after you turn 18.

  6. If Anonymous @4:52's assessment is correct, then the Scottish independence referendum is exactly the situation justifying "vote from birth".

    When a semi-state is characterized by "corrupt politics, chronic dependency, and huge drain on (our) taxes", it takes almost no imagination to see where an 80-year-old and an 8-year-old would have very different views about the advisability of untethering from the mama pig.


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