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.