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Volume 30 • Number 3

July 2016



Why Children Should Be Allowed to Vote

by Maura Priest

The United States has an ugly record of unjust disenfranchisement. Initially, only property-owning white males could exercise this essential political right. As time went on, progressive legislation began to rectify these grave wrongs. Property ownership is no longer mandated, poll taxes have been eliminated, and the vote has been expanded to women and minorities. However, there remains a class of the unjustly disenfranchised: those old enough to reason, to make rational and informed decisions, yet denied basic political privileges because of age. This paper argues that the current voting age in the United States conflicts with fundamental liberal principles. It considers a wide range of arguments that attempt to justify youth disenfranchisement and concludes that all such arguments fail. It then briefly argues that youth voting is more likely to help society rather than hurt it. Although arguments in this paper focus on voting in the United States, much of what is said applies to all liberal democracies.

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ISSN: 2152-0542