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But I Can't Reach the Ballot Box
March 13, 2013 11:20 AM   Subscribe

"Ours are aging, consumption-based societies, focused on today. We need to find a way to build for the future. Maybe enfranchising our children is the answer."
posted by seemoreglass (65 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Before anyone comments on this post without reading the article... The proposal is not to allow children to vote. It is to give mothers extra votes.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:28 AM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


The vanishing point of this "logic" is assigning people multiple or partial votes based on their fertility and life expectancy.

But I do think that a systematic survey of the views of youth should be undertaken on a regular basis to see what they perceive as problems, what they're being shielded from, and what they do and don't understand. I don't see toddlers as big policymakers, though, (apart from the ones we've already got in Congress).
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:29 AM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


My fertile mother-of-three Reganite Republican mother does not believe in global warming, peak oil, peace treaties or diplomacy, or any kind of social safety net (once she gets hers, of course). I'm pretty psyched she can't outvote me. I left home ASAP to duck her ability to make any more decisions for me about my future than necessary, thank you very much!
posted by availablelight at 11:32 AM on March 13, 2013 [13 favorites]


This article kind of jumps all over the place and needs some editing.

Children's rights are a serious topic and deserve honest and balanced thought. Not "Mothers are best at spending shared resources on their offspring, which is why state child support usually goes to them.

Funny, I thought child support usually went to the mothers because the mother had primary care of the child.
posted by Lemurrhea at 11:34 AM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


There are pretty obvious and scary authoritarian consequences to giving mothers extra votes. That's basically giving conservatives a real reason to be anti-abortion.
posted by mek at 11:36 AM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Emporer for Life Octomom was unavailable for comment.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:37 AM on March 13, 2013 [12 favorites]


The proposal is not to allow children to vote. It is to give mothers extra votes.

I'm sure the evangelicals will be on board with this one, big time. Mormons, too.
Careful what you ask for, and all that.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:38 AM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are pretty obvious and scary authoritarian consequences to giving mothers extra votes. That's basically giving conservatives a real reason to be anti-abortion.

Just the opposite. Conservatives will support liberals having as many abortions as they want, thereby costing liberals extra votes, while the (non-hypocritical) conservatives will continue to be pro-life, pop out more kids, and gain extra votes.
posted by gyc at 11:38 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


When our democracies stop fetishizing the vote and come to the realization that full civic engagement cannot be relegated to a single, isolated action every four years; when they realize that politics extend far beyond the electoral sphere and instead reach deep into our cultural, social, and economic lives, touching them at every point; when they see that voting as an institution has been instrumentalized to the point that it nominates elites to regulate the justice of the many and legitimates colonial incursions into foreign states with different models of governance; only then will democracies deal with inequality once and for all. All else is static in the wind.
posted by Catchfire at 11:38 AM on March 13, 2013 [22 favorites]


by suggesting mothers vote for their children.

Yeah, the moms getting two votes thing is a weird way to play this.

I'd be all over it, though, if it was actually kids who got to vote. There is no one more fair in the whole world than a five year old. Sure, they personally may have an out of whack sense of entitlement, but present them with "so and so is doing [morally questionable thing]. Is that right?" and just about any kid will be able to clear up right and wrong.

That said, can't tell you how much I'd love to see a debate moderated by a kid. "Senator Doe, are you a poo poo head? You have 3 minutes to respond."
posted by phunniemee at 11:40 AM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


more (conservative Christian) votes by families with lots of children is the ultimate goal of the Quiverful movement, isn't it?
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 11:41 AM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


There is a laundry list of much much better ideas such as deliberative democracy, aka demarchy at the national level, or liquid or delegative democracy, aka what the German Pirate Party stands for, or single transferable vote. An awful lot of mothers are quite short sighted, not nearly as short sighted as fathers, but still. We could lower the voting age perhaps.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:42 AM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


gyc, I mean it that this could make it much more likely for women in Republican areas (even in blue states) to face increased barriers to abortion access. It will become a legitimate gerrymandering strategy.

The idea only works in a pie-in-the-sky sense, in the real world where women are very much not equal and the target of a great deal of coercion, it's a giveaway to social conservatives, which is the opposite of what progressive change looks like.

Not to mention this actually denies the agency of 14-17 year olds. Again, exactly wrong.
posted by mek at 11:43 AM on March 13, 2013


I'm trying to teach my children to save money. When I give them their allowance they have the option to put in a "bank account" --- a little envelope marked "Bank of Dad." The day before allowance day, I pay 5% interest on whatever's in the envelope. My daughter figured out what a great deal this is (and no, I'm not accepting new depositors) and swore to save up. I showed her on a spreadsheet how, if she just saves until the summertime, her interest payment will already be as big as her allowance.

The next few days were the first warm, beautiful days of the springtime. The ice cream truck started driving through the neighborhood. And both of the bank accounts are empty now.

I'm sure that my children will eventually learn to capitalize on their strong interest in the future, but I'd hate to have them voting.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 11:43 AM on March 13, 2013 [24 favorites]


This seems like kind of a kludgy way to equalize voter participation across classes, but I guess it works.

It would probably be better to make election day a national holiday and put more polling places in inner cities so that voting is less of a chore, though.

Or, heck, compulsory voting.
posted by grahamsletter at 11:45 AM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't see any way for this change to further the interests of huge corporations so it's probably not going to happen
posted by burnmp3s at 11:46 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


We could maybe give women without any kids an extra quarter vote instead as affirmative action.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:47 AM on March 13, 2013


There is no one more fair in the whole world than a five year old


I'd be up for this just because I could handle five minutes wars where nobody gets hurt everybody cries and afterwards we all just get to play as if nothing ever happened.
posted by srboisvert at 11:47 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Haven't helicopter parents given their children enough entitlement?
posted by Melismata at 11:47 AM on March 13, 2013


Apparently, for all the talk of Twitter accounts, the Vatican has also taken new media lessons from watching reality shows. "We'll be right back with the new pope...after this."
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:48 AM on March 13, 2013


Oops wrong thread
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:48 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Evidently the world needs more ways to incentivize overpopulation.
posted by tempestuoso at 11:49 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let's try the opposite case: everyone over 30 without kids gets an extra vote.
posted by mek at 11:50 AM on March 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


Given low voter participation rates, I'm going to wager enhanced suffrage ain't much incentive for ... anything, really.
posted by notyou at 11:52 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


In this earlier op-ed, another author riffs on Demeny voting by suggesting gradual emancipation for adolescents.
posted by seemoreglass at 11:52 AM on March 13, 2013


I'd like to see someone crunch the data from polls to predict how this would impact recent elections. I imagine that in the US, giving mothers extra votes would tilt elections to the left.

Actually letting kids vote might not change the results at all.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:54 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let's try the opposite case: everyone over 30 without kids gets an extra vote.

And so began the era of the Brunch Party.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:54 AM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


It would probably be better to make election day a national holiday

Not to derail, but why the heck isn't this the case? Is this something we can petition for? I live alone, no kids, but I work full time a 30 minute trip from where my polling location was, and I had to get up early election morning to go in and vote before work so I'd be able to vote at all. I don't know how people with actual responsibilities manage to do it.
posted by phunniemee at 11:56 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Senator Doe, are you a poo poo head? You have 3 minutes to respond.

In Rubber v. Glue, 911 U.S. 666 (2004), the United States Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that your question bounces off of me and sticks to you. Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote a dissenting opinion that your mother is so dumb, she took Imodium to clear up her mens rea.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:58 AM on March 13, 2013 [15 favorites]


Evidently the world needs more ways to incentivize overpopulation.

According to the Wikipedia article, Demeny voting "was part of a broader set of policy proposals aimed at combating the low fertility rate in certain countries." So that was actually a feature, in those countries, not a bug.
posted by seemoreglass at 12:00 PM on March 13, 2013


...suggesting mothers vote for their children. That’s a data-backed view: Mothers are best at spending shared resources on their offspring, which is why state child support usually goes to them.

Their idea is based on a bullshit premise.
posted by rocket88 at 12:02 PM on March 13, 2013


That’s a data-backed view: Mothers are best at spending shared resources on their offspring, which is why state child support usually goes to them.

Er, what?

Mothers are not magical creatures who become endowed with special abilities upon having children. They are not necessarily better at making better long-term decisions (especially if it risks worse short-term outcomes). People who are mothers make spectacularly terrible decisions about their own children all the time, shared resources or no. There might be an argument here, but the authors aren't making it. Instead, they seem to be basing it all on a bunch of nonsense assumptions.
posted by rtha at 12:03 PM on March 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


It is to give mothers extra votes.

What about fathers? Don't we count in the future?
posted by three blind mice at 12:04 PM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm sure that my children will eventually learn to capitalize on their strong interest in the future, but I'd hate to have them voting.

Conversely, one could argue that they both display a level of fiscal competence and responsibility commensurate with their elected Republican peers in national office, so why wouldn't you give them the franchise?
posted by Mayor West at 12:05 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is completely fucking stupid for half a million different reasons, not the least among them being that parents voting by proxy is probably the primary reason kids don't get to vote in the first place.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:06 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Let's try the opposite case: everyone over 30 without kids gets an extra vote.

I thought you were going to go with "disenfranchise the elderly". Which, by the argument of this article, is a pretty good idea.
posted by gurple at 12:08 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


What about fathers? Don't we count in the future?

According to your children's proxy vote, you failed to win as World's Greatest Dad for the fifth year in a row. I'd really re-think your whole "homework before videogames" policy if I were you.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:09 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


What about fathers? Don't we count in the future?

Well, maybe we could give all the votes of the household to them... How does that sound? Or, maybe all the votes should be given to a small, select group of people who know what the best policies are...

Wait, these are all terrible ideas. Let's stick to one-person-one-vote. You know, so we don't disenfranchise people by playing favorites.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 12:12 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe we should allow children to vote. Of course that could lead to President Beiber, so maybe not.
posted by jonmc at 12:15 PM on March 13, 2013



This article kind of jumps all over the place and needs some editing.


Geez, no shit. It's pretty horrible.

Two Arguments for Child Enfranchisement

I'd put the voting age at 13.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:17 PM on March 13, 2013


Not to derail, but why the heck isn't this the case? Is this something we can petition for? I live alone, no kids, but I work full time a 30 minute trip from where my polling location was, and I had to get up early election morning to go in and vote before work so I'd be able to vote at all. I don't know how people with actual responsibilities manage to do it.

We don't vote because our vote is mostly worthless. /eponysterical
posted by mrgrimm at 12:18 PM on March 13, 2013


I don't see any way for this change to further the interests of huge corporations so it's probably not going to happen

Corporations are people, my friend. They end up getting one vote per employee.
posted by Gary at 12:23 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd put the voting age at 13.

I dunno, it took a fair bit longer than that for me to get over my adolescent admiration of Ayn Rand.
posted by asperity at 12:46 PM on March 13, 2013


Are we really ready for Barney as president?

(I did read the article - but it got in the way of the joke.)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:11 PM on March 13, 2013


To be fair, it sounds like the article is in fact advocating for the enfranchisement of children - but that mothers can vote for children who are too young to vote themselves. The latter I think is patently ridiculous, but there is a good overall point.

When I was 13-14 we had a civics class, this was mandated as part of my public education. I think if a 13-14 year old can understand a political literacy class, then he/she understands enough to vote. Also, what is the purpose of telling kids "hey we have this awesome democratic political process that everyone can participate in oh except not you."
posted by capricorn at 1:19 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


To clarify: I would very specifically advocate for voter registrations to be provided upon completion of a civics/political literacy class, which would be required for all public school students during the 8th grade and could be taken outside of school (cf driver's ed) for private school students and adults who had not been in the US public school system.
posted by capricorn at 1:22 PM on March 13, 2013


I think the only problem there would be: who controls the civics/political literacy class?
posted by corb at 1:35 PM on March 13, 2013


I think the only problem there would be: who controls the civics/political literacy class?

Well, we should avoid handing it over to the propagandists...
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:44 PM on March 13, 2013


I think the only problem there would be: who controls the civics/political literacy class?

Have it be the same thing as the test folks have to take to gain Citizenship.
posted by phunniemee at 1:47 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd set it at 15, I think. A president elected at 15 will still be in office when the minor voter reaches majority. And if people started voting at 15 maybe we'd start teaching, and caring about, civics again. It would also get people into volunteering at an age when most would have the time to really get involved, and come to value it (whereas I remember my youthful enthusiasm and idealism being somewhat undercut by not being able to vote).
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:03 PM on March 13, 2013


Have it be the same thing as the test folks have to take to gain Citizenship.


Kind of like a literacy test?
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 2:15 PM on March 13, 2013


I would very specifically advocate for voter registrations to be provided upon completion of a civics/political literacy class

I don't care if people don't know how many senators are allotted to each state, or the difference between the popular vote and the electoral college, or even whether they can name the three branches of government.

What worries me is a deeper sort of ignorance: that regarding current political, economic, and environmental issues, and how they fit into the wider context of history and world events. If you don't understand where we are and how we got there, you shouldn't have a say in deciding where we're going.

In principle, I would fully advocate a system that grants voting rights only to individuals that can demonstrate a basic grasp of current political issues and domestic/world events. In practice, I know such a system is impossible to implement in a manner unaffected by corruptive influence and unbiased by culture and language. But damn are we in trouble if we continue to allow voter ignorance (and the exploitation thereof) to drive government policy.
posted by dephlogisticated at 2:40 PM on March 13, 2013


The problem with voter ignorance isn't necessarily that voters are ignorant, as that doesn't naturally motivate them to vote for anyone (or at all). It's that ignorant voters can be manipulated with billion-dollar ad campaigns.
posted by mek at 2:45 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


12 or 13 seems like a good age to let children have the vote. Whatever the current age is that we 'try them as an adult' in criminal courts.

My snarky answer to this proposition was to suggest that we give the parents 3/5ths of a vote per child (with the parents getting to vote).
posted by el io at 3:19 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also a good thing - a requirement to pass a civics class to get a high school diploma.

(but yeah, letting parents vote in proxy for children - that is a pretty incredibly awful idea).
posted by el io at 3:22 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


It also might be fairer from a principled perspective to hold any income tax funds collected from minors in escrow until the child reaches enfranchisement and gains a say on the use of those funds (I'd have no problem with the gov't reaping the interest while waiting). This wouldn't create a parental tax shelter, but it might create an (additional) revenue/social security/medicare problem if there is in fact a significant stream coming from minors incomes. In which case maybe that gesture isn't worth it. Or if the overhead of tracking the amounts in escrow by SSN is too high relative to the funds reserved.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:58 PM on March 13, 2013


Fuck it, you wanna see an effective government? Give me extra votes. Children are dumb, plenty of parents are parents purely because of their lack of planning. Me? I believe in global warming, GINI indexes and LGBT equality. Give me all the votes.
posted by klangklangston at 3:58 PM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is a Canadian newspaper. Our population is basically at zero natural population growth (i.e. births=deaths). All of our future population gain will be from immigrants. Clearly, then, the best solution would be to give a million randomly selected citizens of other countries the vote.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 4:06 PM on March 13, 2013


I would have been horrified at the thought of my mom voting for me, starting at about age ten. I mean, I love my mom and all, but to think she would have voted for Nixon, Ford and Reagan on my behalf...

*shudders*

Also, I'm not really sure my sister-in-law deserves ten votes just for being amazingly fertile and addicted to babies.
posted by malocchio at 4:07 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd set it at 15, I think.

The problem with kids is that they often have limited exposure to the rest of society. Their whole world so far might be the place where they grew up. I don't believe 18 is some silver bullet, but I'd rather voters have had some experience living life outside of a rigid school schedule* first.

*Without wanting to discount the experiences of people who finish school earlier or have had tough school years.
posted by ersatz at 4:40 PM on March 13, 2013


Every time I think I've read the dumbest thing ever I am proved wrong. It's like there's a team of highly trained, serious tortoiseshell-bespectacled young people in lab coats somewhere in an arms race for the top of the list of Stupidest Ideas Ever.

The only generalization you can make about a parent is that, if the child is a product of their own reproductive system, either they didn't use birth control for some reason or the method they used failed.

That is no basis for a system of government.
posted by winna at 4:46 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Agreed. Strange women lying in ponds distributing wards is no basis for a system of government.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:58 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Let's take Sarah Palin as an example, and tweak her a little bit for purposes of the example.

Tweak #1: At the time of the election, her oldest kid was 19, and her second oldest was just a month over 18. Let's make them a little younger, so that they're both under 18 at that time.

Tweak #2: I don't know if this is just a rumor or what, but her oldest kid supposedly joined the military in order to avoid jail time or some other legal punishment. Let's assume he wound up in juvie lockup instead of the military.

Tweak #3: Her second oldest child had a child like a month after the election. Let's assume it was instead just before the election.

Now, she's got five kids. But one's a prisoner. At least in some jurisdictions, he wouldn't get a vote even if he were of age. Does she get to vote for him anyway, though?

And one has a child of her own. Does that child's vote pass through to her as the grandmother?

And one has Down syndrome. Again, at least in some jurisdictions, he wouldn't get a vote even if he were of age. Does she get one for him?

So, all in all, I guess what I'm trying to ask is:

In this wonderful system, does Sarah Palin get four times, five times, six times, or seven times as many votes as I do?
posted by Flunkie at 5:05 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


The problem with kids is that they often have limited exposure to the rest of society. Their whole world so far might be the place where they grew up. I don't believe 18 is some silver bullet, but I'd rather voters have had some experience living life outside of a rigid school schedule* first.

Then you really want 20 or 21. Most kids turn 18 during their senior year of high school, or the summer after. There's not much a difference between worldliness at 15 and 18--the tradeoff in earlier engagement and preservation of idealism through teenage IDGAF attitude seems worth it to me.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:15 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


This idea is so terrible I had to check if Margaret Wente took credit.
posted by squinty at 7:38 AM on March 14, 2013


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