A recent survey from PPP indicated that 30% of Republicans and 18% of Democrats favored bombing the animated city of Agrabah. That city, you may recall, is the setting for Disney’s Alladin. Before we rush to conclusions that Republican respondents are stupid or misinformed, this party difference is most likely attributable to the fact that Republicans are more hawkish than their Democratic counterparts. The fact that it sounds vaguely Muslim and the angst regarding Islamic terrorism most likely also played a roll.
Other surveys of this nature showed that close to 80% of Democrats favored the mandatory labeling of food that contained DNA (note: all food contains DNA if it derives from a plant or animal, i.e.- all food). The purpose of this article entry is not to illustrate the apparent stupidity of the electorate (OK- yes it is, sort of).
There is a recent drive to lower the voting age to 16 from its current 18. Previous to the passage of the 26th Amendment, states determined voting ages which was set at 21 in all 50 states at the time. The 26th Amendment simply removed that 21-year delineation and lowered it to 18 nationally. Before its passage, nothing prevented states from unilaterally lowering the voting age and nothing prevents them now. They just cannot disenfranchise anyone over the age of 18. So allowing 16-year-old people to vote is certainly constitutional.
The bigger question is whether we want to let people 16 years old vote. Currently, 18 states allow those age 17 to vote in primaries and caucuses if they will be 18 by time the general election rolls around. The recent push to lower the voting age is simple: in 2008 Barack Obama garnered 66% of the millennial vote (age 18-29) which dropped to 60% in 2012 and Clinton is projected to get 55% of that vote. It is also true that younger people tend to identify with the Democratic Party. However, younger actual voters identify with the Republican Party by four percentage points.
Many of the purported reasons for lowering the voting age to 16 among the proponents make, at best, specious arguments. For instance, they argue that youth have adult responsibilities, but not the rights, that they (if they work) pay taxes and have no representation, their interests (whatever they are) are not heard, they have a unique perspective (I’ll say), and it will increase voter turnout. There are many people who pay taxes and have no representation and there are many who have representation, but don’t vote OR pay taxes so that argument is silly and circular logic that makes little sense.
Any law that has some age specification in it is, by nature, arbitrary. And they always seem unfair to the people who fall outside the age specification. But, there must be, in the case of voting, these arbitrary cut-off points less we descend into a slippery slope argument. For example, there are likely many people age 16 who could make informed political choices. Likewise, there are many 40 year old people who can make uninformed political choices. The “hope” is that as one increases in age and has more life experiences, they will be better voters and more informed. If the age was lowered to 16, who is to say someone 14 cannot make an informed choice? And so it goes.
As for the turnout argument, the millennial group (age 18-29) saw the largest percentage increase in turnout in 2008, but even that fact is misleading because it decreased again in 2012 and they largely sit out midterm and off-year elections. Also, as a percentage of the total electorate (people who actually cast a ballot) they are notoriously the lowest in terms of turnout and today represent just 9% of all voters (in 2012). Some of that is due to demographics, but most is due to apathy. In days past, this group fought to have the voting age lowered to 18 and their progeny today simply fail to take advantage. One is led to the conclusion the same thing would happen should we lower the voting age again.
Most importantly, someone 16-years-old- given the state of education and lack of civics education in particular- simply lack the intellect or understanding of politics to make informed decisions. This writer ventures many 18-24 year old people fall in the same boat. These are the voters who show up at a polling place once every four years, if that. Furthermore, most people age 16-20 are under some authority figure like a parent or, more likely, a teacher and therefore more apt to parrot the views of that authority figure at the ballot box. That hardly classifies as making an informed and independent political decision.
Instead, let us call this what it is: another ploy by the Left to beef up their voting rolls. But, if they are like anyone age 18-24, allowing someone 16 years old to vote will simply add another useless statistical demographic to the equation and little else. When it comes to politics and the electoral process, we do not have to mimic Brazil, Cuba, Austria, Slovenia or the Isle of Man.