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youth vote
March 10, 2004 3:15 PM   Subscribe

Should 14 year olds have the right to vote? A new amendment is in the works in California: The measure, introduced Monday, would give 14- and 15-year-olds a quarter-vote and 16- and 17-year-olds a half-vote beginning in 2006.
posted by badstone (95 comments total)

 
Posted this in the thread below then aftward thought: wait, California is a state that is thinking of making the driving age 18.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:20 PM on March 10, 2004


Should 14 year olds have the right to vote?

Nope. Bad idea. Next.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:21 PM on March 10, 2004


Um, no 14 year olds shouldn't be voting. They need to wait until they're 18 to not take part in democracy.
posted by fenriq at 3:25 PM on March 10, 2004


I thought it had been established that their opinions were meaningless and they should be ignored.
posted by jon_kill at 3:26 PM on March 10, 2004


I'd say even lower. I say the minute you can accept that Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy are just lies told to you by old people with money, you need to start learning about how government works.
posted by Hildago at 3:26 PM on March 10, 2004


Cognitively, I dont think most 14 year olds have progressed to formal operations, they're still too concrete at that stage. Plus, the campaigning would get absurd--politicians would demean themselves even further by wearing baseball caps backward or skateboarding around. I dont want to see that happen.
posted by mert at 3:28 PM on March 10, 2004


We used to say: if you're old enough to serve in the army, you're old enough to drink. Now in Calif: If you]re old enough to whack off, you're old enough for half a vote.

In my view only those peole who pay taxes or file for them and are eligible for jury duty (state and federal) should have the right to vote
posted by Postroad at 3:28 PM on March 10, 2004


Yes.
posted by delmoi at 3:29 PM on March 10, 2004


I'd like to see their poll results though.
It would be nice if they could set up a program where the kids can vote and the results are public, but with no actual meaning.
That would be loads of comic material as well...
posted by Wallzatcha at 3:29 PM on March 10, 2004


And then later you can control how they vote...
posted by delmoi at 3:29 PM on March 10, 2004


Whee-ho! All ages show!

I'm for it. They gotta live here too.

(although one wonders if we would start to see a increase of bills introducing new skate parks and less homework)
posted by milovoo at 3:29 PM on March 10, 2004


"There's a reason why 14-year-olds and 16-year-olds don't vote. [...] They are easily deceived by political charlatans."

And this makes them different than (say) the average 40-year old... how, exactly?
posted by Slothrup at 3:32 PM on March 10, 2004


Voting is for old ALL people
posted by eddydamascene at 3:33 PM on March 10, 2004


By the time most kids reach the age of 14, they've probably already had several opportunities to vote in school elections. Which means that they've already figured out that no matter who they vote for, nothing changes -- it's still the same rules and the same people running the place.
posted by Slothrup at 3:35 PM on March 10, 2004


It's assinine. Federal Law stipulates the voting age is 18. Thus, these votes could not count in national elections, in elections for state representative to a national office, or for any state or local office in which the department received Federal funding (school boards, etc.)
Postroad also makes good points. Actually, I've been paying and filing taxes since I was 14, but as a depedent until I was 18, of course. And yeah, I don't want people who can't serve on a jury electing legislators. Oh wait - the regular criminal law usually doesn't apply to minors, anyway. I can't believe this bill was even proposed. Do legislators even consider the legal implications of the B.S. they come up with?
Though I see a good future in California for the U.S. Marijuana Party if the measure ever came to pass.
posted by sixdifferentways at 3:36 PM on March 10, 2004


Assembly Member Ray Haynes, a Murrieta Republican, called the proposal "the nuttiest idea I've ever heard.

"There's a reason why 14-year-olds and 16-year-olds don't vote. They are not adults. They are not mature enough. They are easily deceived by political charlatans."


Gotta wonder what this guy's so worried about, then. If his statement is true, it would work out very well for his party.
posted by contessa at 3:37 PM on March 10, 2004


Well, the reason this isn't immediately dismissable (IMO) is that plenty of 14-17 year olds pay taxes, and taxation without representation was considered to be a pretty big deal 200 years or so ago. Another reason to let them vote is that the older generation is pretty casual about passing its debts along to the the next generation. Maybe bonds like that, that encourage fiscal irresponsibility, would have a tougher time getting through if voters were younger.
posted by badstone at 3:38 PM on March 10, 2004


Is there precedent for handing out "half votes" and "quarter votes"? Surely you've either got a vote or you haven't?
posted by kaemaril at 3:38 PM on March 10, 2004


More than the whole political charleton thing, most teenagers (especially the younger teenagers) vote with their parents. Basically this measure gives extra voting clout to adults with children.

"Well, children, we are going to go down to the polls and vote for all the pro-family measures I told you about or else you will have no supper."
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:41 PM on March 10, 2004


Is there precedent for handing out "half votes" and "quarter votes"?

I suppose the closest precedent would be the counting of blacks as 3/5 of a person for the purposes of congressional representation way back when. (Did this end with the 15th Amendment?)

most teenagers (especially the younger teenagers) vote with their parents

whoa. apparently you haven't met many teenagers. or been one.
posted by badstone at 3:45 PM on March 10, 2004


But, Joey, there is an equally widespread cliché that all teenagers rebel against their parents. So may hap they would balance each other out.
posted by Hildago at 3:46 PM on March 10, 2004


Do we round up the quarter and half votes at the end or what? I don't like the idea of anyone having the equivalent of 3/5ths of a vote. You either vote or you don't.
posted by mathowie at 3:50 PM on March 10, 2004


I don't see the problem with fractional votes. I mean, we're already used to "rounding off" votes via the electoral college system. Maybe I'm just not as attached to integers as the average person.

The real question is this: Suppose I have, on one hand, a well read 14 year old who understands the issues and is eager to participate in democracy, and on the other hand, average Joe Sixpack who learned everything he knows about the election from Saturday Night Live, Rush Limbaugh, the dude next to him at the bar last night, and/or The Simpsons. Whose vote should count or count more?
posted by badstone at 3:55 PM on March 10, 2004


It is true. I never was a teenager nor have I ever met any. Obviously, my opinion is bunk.

That being said, as a high school teacher, I watch 14 and 15 year old kids get unloaded by their parents every day, listening to the same talk radio (be it NPR or Rush) and spouting the same opinions.

It is much easier to manipulate a students still involved in high school. Hence the success of 'N Synch. Until they've gotten their own license and (ideally) moved out of the house, I stand by my statement that most 14-17 year olds would vote the same as their parents.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:56 PM on March 10, 2004


maybe we just grew up in different places. i never met any Republican kids when I was in high school. then again, I ran an environmental activist group, so who am i to say.

still, I don't buy the manipulation thing. at least, I don't buy that, as a population, high school kids are any more susceptible to it than any other population. it's not that i have a particularly high opinion of kids, just a low opinion of the average American's concern with anything outside their immediate life.

yeah, i'm an elitist asshole. if it was up to me, anyone of any age could go to the polls, take a test that demonstrates their understanding of the issues, and if they pass they get to vote. (or perhaps their vote would be weighted by their grade.) unfortunately, there's a Consitutional amendment banning that sort of thing...
posted by badstone at 4:08 PM on March 10, 2004


Look. Just give them the vote. Then you can control who they vote for, right?

More seriously, I'm often disturbed by the degree of seperation that we impose between the adult and child classes, when in fact the legal difference is just a number. I think the way we - quite literally - patronize children reduces the likelihood that they'll learn critical thought, personal responsibility, or engagement with the world. It is certainly true that they are ignorant of many things at young ages, but, on the other hand, I too am equally, infinitely ignorant. And teenagers have a much fresher, less cynical view of the world to counteract that ignorance. I think it would provide a new balance to the electoral system, and also provide youth with an early political outlet, making them more likely to be civically involved as they grow older. It's an excellent idea.

if it was up to me, anyone of any age could go to the polls, take a test that demonstrates their understanding of the issues, and if they pass they get to vote. (or perhaps their vote would be weighted by their grade.) unfortunately, there's a Consitutional amendment banning that sort of thing...

I think what you're referring to was the banning of literacy tests. Such tests, like poll taxes, aren't strictly illegal. They're only illegal when applied only to a select group of people (e.g. - blacks). Apply them across the board, and it should be perfectly fine.

That said, both are probably a bad idea. Poll taxes discourages voting among the underpriveleged, which would encourage an even greater class inequality than we already have. 'Civics tests' also stand a very good chance of catering to the better educated - read: richer - levels of society, again closing off underpriveleged voting. Which would suck.
posted by kaibutsu at 4:20 PM on March 10, 2004


Wow how many of you pro-vote guys are parents?

First rule as a parent...this family is not a democracy! Oh sure, you let them have some voice as part of the education process. But the major ones-- where to live, where to vacation, when to go to the doctor/dentist, what to make for dinner, how much money gets spent on clothes, and so on-- these decisions are made by responsible adults.

You start letting the fourteen year-olds vote, and you are eating pizza every night, visiting the dentist every 10 years, busting the budget at the candy store, and electing Adam Sandler to the Senate.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:24 PM on March 10, 2004


Nope, not a parent. But I was a working, tax paying, and politically active child.
posted by badstone at 4:31 PM on March 10, 2004


Thank goodness the Constitution is hard to amend.
posted by ilsa at 4:35 PM on March 10, 2004


badstone:
i never met any Republican kids when I was in high school.
Obviously you did not go to high school in Central Oklahoma, as I did.
posted by sixdifferentways at 4:41 PM on March 10, 2004


Quarter Votes?! Half Votes?! That's utter crap. You want the kids to vote, then you let them get a full vote.

Hell, kids have been voting for TRL since I was a kid. And you know how pure and unbiased TRL is?

This is asine. If you can vote at 14, then you should be able to drink and drive at 14. If these are the same fuckers that don't want 16 year olds driving on their streets, then don't give them the damn vote.

And everyone knows that the kids aren't going to be seeing any of their social security taxes anways. So what's the point?
posted by Stynxno at 4:41 PM on March 10, 2004


Fractional votes are completely contrary to the spirit of our democracy. Either let 14 year olds vote or don't let them vote, but don't patronize them as half-people.
posted by PrinceValium at 4:42 PM on March 10, 2004


It's assinine. Federal Law stipulates the voting age is 18. Thus, these votes could not count in national elections, in elections for state representative to a national office, or for any state or local office in which the department received Federal funding (school boards, etc.)

I don't think so. The 26th amendment just says you can't take the vote from anyone 18 and over, not that you can't give it to those who are younger. And the relevant bit of the US Code (42 USC 1973bb) just says "enforce the 26th amendment".
posted by smackfu at 4:51 PM on March 10, 2004


Fractional votes are completely contrary to the spirit of our democracy.

Bullshit. Our entire democracy is based on unequally weighted votes. Districting systems, the electoral college, the US Senate: all these things make the vote of a typical urban American worth significantly less than that of a typical rural American, for instance.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:22 PM on March 10, 2004


THIS IS GREAT!
posted by thirteen at 5:28 PM on March 10, 2004


When I was 12, I so wanted to vote and believed I was up on things enough to make a choice based on the issues. My family had no interest in our political system and yet I still felt drawn to it. Each day I would read and try to understand, would change my mind about who I supported, and probably would have ended up voting for Nixon (yeah, I know!), but all the same, I had a real opinion that I still believe was my own.

Many years later, as the father of four teenagers, I saw a few young me's also keeping up with certain issues that have ultimately come to affect their adult lives. I thought back to my youth and started thinking that a reduction in the voting age wasn't absurd at all, and maybe just what this country needs. Sure, more teens won't exercise this right than will, but exactly how many adults do? Give 'em a chance I say. They may surprise us all.
posted by LouReedsSon at 5:28 PM on March 10, 2004


I don't think so. The 26th amendment just says you can't take the vote from anyone 18 and over, not that you can't give it to those who are younger.

Technically true, but it's open to interpretation:

"Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age"

It's arguably affirmed in the negative that the Amendment sets eighteen as the minimum age.

My guess would be that caselaw and legislative history has also established the right of the Federal government to determine a minimum age. For instance:

". . . Confronted thus with the possibility that they might have to maintain two sets of registration books and go to the expense of running separate election systems for federal elections and for all other elections, the States were receptive to the proposing of an Amendment by Congress to establish a minimum age qualification at 18 for all elections, and ratified it promptly." (S. Rep. No. 26, 92d Cong., 1st Sess. (1971); H.R. Rep. No. 37, 92d Cong., 1st Sess. (1971).

Oregon V. Mitchell, 400 U.S. 112 (1970) also contains at least dicta indicating that the Amendment sets not just a ceiling but also a floor on voting age, at least as far as National Elections (and probable therefore, any office receiving Federal funding.)

I think if a state tried it, quite of bit of other precedent could be found for the proposition that 18 was the minimum age.
posted by sixdifferentways at 5:53 PM on March 10, 2004


My God. Most adults are hardly informed enough to vote. Letting 14 year-olds vote is possibly the worst idea I've ever heard. How many 14 year-olds even know how their governmental structures operate? It's not like they would vote, either: young people are so goddamn apathetic, it'd be a wonder if they noticed when an election was happening. This would be a great recipe for having parents drag their kids into voting booths, or for parties to start running on even more juvenile platforms. Stupid, stupid.
posted by Dasein at 5:57 PM on March 10, 2004


Has ANYONE here actually ever watched TRL on MTV?

That's what happens when teenagers vote.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:58 PM on March 10, 2004


Oh, and this quarter- and half-vote thing cannot possibly be constitutional. You can either vote or not vote; there's no such thing as a half-elector. Mindless bullshit.
posted by Dasein at 5:58 PM on March 10, 2004


XQUZYPHYR , I seriously doubt TRL viewers would vote, much like the 25-year old living in his parents' basement.

To simplify it, I agree with the above mentioned tax requirement, except I would amend it as "If you have ever filed a tax return, then you can vote".
posted by linux at 6:03 PM on March 10, 2004


I think its practically criminal 16 year olds arent allowed to vote. They can get driver's licenses, work practically full-time, pay federal taxes, etc yet they have to wait two years before casting a ballot? Not to mention that's the age you take civics classes at school and would help with the pessimism of "so what? Voting is for old people."

> Most adults are hardly informed enough to vote.

18 year olds aren't exactly wise men of the mountain, but because of the fact they can be drafted now means they can vote. That mentality should be expanded to 16 year olds because they work, drive, pay taxes, etc.

Not to mention its highly unethical to give "intelligence tests" for voting as our Jim Crow laws have shown us. So intelligence is a non-issue.

Then again, the US isn't know for its liberal voting policies. 18 year olds have only been able to vote for 40 years, voting days are NOT holidays, and compulsory voting is not law.
posted by skallas at 6:18 PM on March 10, 2004


One more comment

>for parties to start running on even more juvenile platforms. Stupid, stupid.

Yeah, heaven forbid they unionize their McJobs or push for a lower drinking age or eliminate the "great ideas" of adults like pulling all college funding for people with a drug arrest or minimum sentencing laws. Afterall, its the young who suffer from these laws more than anyone.

Heck, they might even open our eyes to all the uninsured kids out there.
posted by skallas at 6:21 PM on March 10, 2004


"I stand by my statement that most 14-17 year olds would vote the same as their parents"

And ALL so-called adults make their decisions based on being well-informed about the issues and the candidates. Gimme a break. I would guess that a high percentage of kids that WANT to vote are going to be more knowledgeable and informed than many adults that vote. And need I even mention those so-called adults who choose not to vote?

"This is asine. If you can vote at 14, then you should be able to drink and drive at 14.

OK, but driving requires a license that must be acquired from the State. If ANYONE can prove to the state that they would be safe and responsibly, shouldn't the state let them have a license?
Drinking is a bit more complicated, but you might argue that as long as someone understands and accepts responsibility for their own actions, then the State should allow them the freedom to make their own decisions as long as they do not infringe in the rights and privileges of anybody else.

The point is that some citizens should not be left out of the process just because they haven't reached some arbitrary age. conversely, plenty of adults have shown that just because they reach that magical age, they do not necessarily reach the assumed level of wisdom and common sense,

Escape From Childhood by John Holt
posted by jaronson at 6:21 PM on March 10, 2004


Uh-huh. What a surprise that this emanates from the state led by the Terminator.
posted by stonerose at 6:29 PM on March 10, 2004


Dasein, my experience couldn't be further from the one you describe. When I was 14, not only did I know how voting worked, how the government was laid out, and what the different offices meant, but I read the voter's guide cover to cover as soon as it came by and decided which way I would vote on each issue or candidate, if I were allowed. For that matter, I worked in my first political campaign before I was allowed to vote, and certainly paid taxes before then.

So there's my salvo in this little battle of the anecdotes. Anyone want to bring in some actual research?
posted by Mars Saxman at 6:29 PM on March 10, 2004


This is not a new idea - some municipalities, including my own, have debated the idea. Ours rejected it based not on principle, but on expense - there would have to be "juvenile ballots" printed because kids could only vote in the local elections, but not in the state or federal ones.

On balance, I think there are a lot of good arguments for retaining a voting age of 18. I do have to say, though, that I have a couple of students (11-12 years old) who are far more informed than most adults I know, kids I'd be comfortable having as full participants in elections. On the other hand, there are many more who I think would need to mature and gain some world awareness.

On preview, I think I'm getting at the same point jaronson is getting at - that the age of 18 represents precisely nothing. It's a yardstick, nothing more - but there are people younger than that who legitimately have both a stake in the political process and the capability of exercising that civic duty responsibly. In a perfect world, they'd be allowed to vote.
posted by Chanther at 6:39 PM on March 10, 2004


Hey, here's an idea... instead of (or in addition to) school field trips to local businesses (my class visited a bakery and we got to see how they got the jelly inside the doughnut, hooray!), how's about we bring the tykes to see an actual trial with a jury, a tax accountant working on 1040's, and to the polls on election day so all these very important citizen-like things we do won't just be sprung on them when they suddendly become adults at that magic age of eighteen? I was never much of a student at all, but geez, the crap I remember spending so much time on really hasn't helped me at all in real life. This voting proposal, if coupled with a genuine attempt in the schools to prepare for citizenship, could very possibly have positive results. No?
posted by LouReedsSon at 7:03 PM on March 10, 2004


Well, the reason this isn't immediately dismissable (IMO) is that plenty of 14-17 year olds pay taxes, and taxation without representation was considered to be a pretty big deal 200 years or so ago. Another reason to let them vote is that the older generation is pretty casual about passing its debts along to the the next generation. Maybe bonds like that, that encourage fiscal irresponsibility, would have a tougher time getting through if voters were younger.

I think Badstone is fairly astute in understanding the rationale behind this proposal. Another reason why this proposal is being made has to do with how the racial distribution of the population in California changes as you look at different age cohorts. The under-18 population in California is disproportionately nonwhite, whereas the over-50 population (which is also the age group most likely to vote) is numerically dominated by whites. Seats in the state legislature, which are allocated by population, tend to reflect the interests of the younger, more racially diverse sectors of California's population. Initiatives and referenda, which are limited to registered voters, are more likely to reflect the views of an older, whiter, and more conservative segment of the California population. This is why right-wing activists in California generally love the initiative process, but hate the state legislature. It is this demographic conflict between white and nonwhite that probably inspired the proposal to extend the franchise to the under-18 population. In addition, I think extending the franchise to more teenagers would also allow Latino teenagers to vote on behalf of their parents' political interests, which the parents cannot do for themselves, because many of them do not have citizenship, even though their children were born in the United States. Last but not least, ballot initiatives dealing with increased spending for schools, denying services to the children of illegal immigrants, and making it easier to impose draconian sentences on teenagers have provided California activists with considerable incentive to consider lowering the voting age.
posted by jonp72 at 7:05 PM on March 10, 2004


This can only lead to one thing:

"Ladies & Gentlemen, President Britney Spears..."
posted by jonmc at 7:11 PM on March 10, 2004


The older I get, the less sure I am about a lot of things.

However, I am pretty sure that if it's okay to say that 14 year-olds only get 1/4 vote and 16 year-olds only get 1/2 vote, then, logically, it's also okay to say that people over 70 only get 1/2 vote and people over 80 only get 1/4 vote.

And I'm also pretty sure that, the older I get, the less likely I'll be to think that's a good idea.
posted by yhbc at 7:18 PM on March 10, 2004


I say let em vote. If you can get them in the habit of doing something while they are young (a vote day in high school where everyone votes), then the more likely the kids will continue to make a habit of it when it becomes not so organized, and they are responsible for doing it themselves. If anything, i think it could make more life-long voters.
posted by jono at 7:47 PM on March 10, 2004


If democratic politicians could be convinced that new born babies would vote for them they would be pro life.
posted by flatlander at 7:55 PM on March 10, 2004


Drinking is a bit more complicated, but you might argue that as long as someone understands and accepts responsibility for their own actions, then the State should allow them the freedom to make their own decisions as long as they do not infringe in the rights and privileges of anybody else.

How do we judge that a 14 year old has the ability to understand and accept the responsibility for their own actions? How can we judge if anyone can? To me, having the ability to right how our country is governed is a bigger responsibility than the right to decide whether to get plastered or not.

The 18 age limit is based, at least partially, on the idea that a human being has passed through the education system and learned how to be a responsible citizen. They have gone through a rite of passage, in a sense, and have earned their right to be an adult.

I suppose I have no problem with the argument that once a person has received their high school degree that they should receive all the rights and responsibilities of another citizen - whether that human being is a 12 year old prodigy or an 18 year old C Student.

14-17 year olds (again, especially 14-15 year olds) still have an awful lot to learn about the world - and about responsibility and accepting the consequences of their actions. While there are many adults who are probably not qualified not vote, even after 18, I don't believe that comparing an irresponsible adult and an adolescent in this regard is accurate.

The adolescent, for example, may still yet grow up to be a responsible citizen. The odds are against the irresponsible adult.
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:07 PM on March 10, 2004


If you need proof as to why this idea is utterly moronic, here it is.

You want to let people vote where 98% of them want to ban water? Hell no. Zero critical thinking skills = deny them a vote. Too bad we can't do that for people 18 and over, too. ;-)

Actually, after all, go for it. Canada could always use the space.
posted by shepd at 8:12 PM on March 10, 2004


It would be nice if they could set up a program where the kids can vote and the results are public, but with no actual meaning.

They had this in Kansas when I was a kid. Results mirrored the adults'. It seems we all just voted for whoever our parents advised us to.
posted by katieinshoes at 8:13 PM on March 10, 2004


Before taxation is proposed as a criteria for allowing a vote, perhaps we should consider that there are many non-citizen, tax-paying, legal immigrants who, by the same measure, should also therefore be allowed a vote. The relationship in the US between democratic representation and taxation is tenuous, at best.
posted by normy at 8:32 PM on March 10, 2004


If ANYONE can prove to the state that they would be safe and responsibly, shouldn't the state let them have a license?

jaronson: No way. A 14 year-old might be able to pass a driving test, but consider how they would drive once the examiner left the car. There's a reason 16 year-old males have such high insurance rates: teenagers make bad drivers. There's more to consider than whether someone can pass a test.

Mars Saxman: I was also politically active at 14 - the age at which I attended my first political convention. I was unique among my peers, because most 14 year-olds couldn't give a damn about politics, and know dick-all about government. They shouldn't vote.

Of course all these age limits are somewhat arbitrary, but that doesn't mean we can't bring good sense and objective arguments to the debates about them.
posted by Dasein at 8:38 PM on March 10, 2004


Require that every citizen who has the right to vote actually votes. Penalize them with community service if they do not. Fix what's broke first, before fucking around with the details.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:08 PM on March 10, 2004


Yeah, if someone tries to protest against the state of the political system by staying home on election day, throw 'em in jail! That'll fix what they don't like about the system. Really.
posted by Dasein at 9:12 PM on March 10, 2004


If the political system is so broken that there is absolutely nobody on the ballot that you can vote for in good conscience, then no amount of 'staying home' is going to fix it, my friend.

If you believe that those few who abstain from voting out of conscience are anything like a significant part of the 60% (or so) of Americans who simply do not vote, then you are a fool. If you think that change is going to come as a result of 'staying home' you are mistaken. You are not magically registering some kind of passive protest against a broken political system (and I agree wholeheartedly, it is deeply and perhaps irredeemably broken) by opting to not participate, you are actively contributing to the decline of the democratic process in your nation.

*paging jonmc. jonmc to thread #31699*

I threw out my comment as a challenge (it is actually the way things work in Australia, I believe), but you didn't rise to it very well, Dasein. I invite you to try again.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:28 PM on March 10, 2004


(I see you're not American. Point stands, though, if not directed at you, specifically.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:30 PM on March 10, 2004


It's assinine. Federal Law stipulates the voting age is 18. Thus, these votes could not count in national elections, in elections for state representative to a national office, or for any state or local office in which the department received Federal funding (school boards, etc.)

And nobody pays attention to local politics anyways, besides lawyers, law officers, and would-be and de-facto politicians. Fact of life, sadly.

Require that every citizen who has the right to vote actually votes.

Love it in theory, hate it in practice. Are more ignorant votes better than less informed votes? Doubt it.

On preview:


If the political system is so broken that there is absolutely nobody on the ballot that you can vote for in good conscience, then no amount of 'staying home' is going to fix it, my friend.


A simple "None of the above" which many have campaigned for would solve that pretty easily and speak volumes if there were numbers.
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:37 PM on March 10, 2004


Be warned.
posted by mazola at 9:39 PM on March 10, 2004


Are more ignorant votes better than less informed votes? Doubt it.

Would as many votes continue to be ignorant, though, if as a condition of receiving the privileges of citizenship, one was required to fulfill the duties? Would not the eventual result be a healthier democracy? Or would it be a baby-and-bathwater situation: giving up a 'freedom' (the freedom to be apathetic, I guess) in order to strengthen the institutions that undergird what is supposed to be a civil society? Should the privileges that one enjoys as a citizen of a (faux-, perhaps) democratic nation be granted only upon fulfilment of the concomittant duties?

(I know I'm coming off as a latterday Heinlein here, circa his juvenile sf yarns back in the 50s, but it's an idea that interests me.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:49 PM on March 10, 2004


It ineterests me too, stavvy, but I will still maintain that if mandatory voting were to take place, at the risk of some kind of penance, you'd have far more straight party-line ignorant voting than we even have nowadays. If you can't be arsed to learn and take a stand, then really, I have no respect for your voice in the first place, and I'll pretty much resent it.
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:57 PM on March 10, 2004


Well, stav, I'm sorry I didn't rise to your challenge sufficiently, but I don't see that you've actually made an argument for your position.

I don't think that most people who stay home do it as a protest. But if someone wants to protest by staying home, should they be dragged in front of a judge? Absolutely not.

Citizens have both the right and the duty to vote, I agree. If I don't like any of the parties in the next election, I'll go and cast a blank ballot. But the idea that I should suffer penalties under the law for staying home instead of going to the polling station and casting a blank ballot is completely horrifying. I have the right to vote; I also have the right not to vote, if I so choose, and taking that right away would be a serious transgression of the proper limits of government, I think.

It's also the wrong approach. If 50% of people aren't voting because they're uneducated, apathetic, and don't think their votes will do any good or make any difference, then the solution is not to scare them into the ballot box, it's to use the political system to show that politics is relevant to their lives and to structure one's party system in such a way that there are palatable alternatives for a wide range of people. The death of politics in our societies is a really serious problem, and it absolutely won't be solved by forcing people to vote.

The other problem is the votes that people would cast if forced to vote. I don't like the idea of elections being decided by people who voted regardless of their levels of knowledge or interest. I don't think that forcing people to vote will force them to take an interest in the election: it will mean a lot of uninformed ballots being cast, and I don't think that's a good thing.

So you want more people to vote? Me too. Let's start by pouring billions more into every level of education and drastically increasing literacy among the population. Then ensure that by the time every student is done grade nine, they have a solid grounding in the political structures and parties of their state/province/country. Make sure that elections districts aren't so gerrymandered that there are only a dozen competitive congressional races out of 435. Get money out of politics by imposing spending limits on candidates and third parties (Canada does this well; I guess that the courts have made any such enterprise hopeless in the U.S.). These things would be a start toward getting people more interested in politics and empowering them to be able to be effective agents of change.

But don't arrest people who want to refrain from voting, for whatever reason. That's an authoritarian cop-out.
posted by Dasein at 10:04 PM on March 10, 2004


Obviously, these folks haven't seen Wild in the Streets. Bad stuff happens when you let kids vote.
posted by ph00dz at 10:08 PM on March 10, 2004


Ok, so let's sum up the arguments against.

1) Kids are dumb, uninvolved in politics, and will vote as their parents tell them to.

Didn't we try that argument with women's suffrage? Sure, it turned out, all told, that the breakdown of the women's vote wasn't too much different from the male vote, but it wasn't because all the women were/are obeying orders from their husbands.

This argument, as well as many of the others, are thinly-veiled age-ism. Sure, we don't look at age-ism with the same eye that we do sexism or racism, but that doesn't mean its any better a set of stereotypes. We reduce children - defined as people under 18 - to a set of labels ('uneducated,' 'uninformed,' 'naive,' etc.), and we are uniformly shocked when these people don't live up to our expectations by doing things like having sex or writing novels. We don't treat this class of people as equal human beings and, as you'd know if you've been to a public high school in the last number of years, we abuse our power over them almost constantly. This is a class of people who have zero political voice, who are completely living at the whim of the 'adults.' It's bullshit, and it should change.

2) Gullibility/ Dihydrogen Monoxide

I'd like to see a control group, shepd. Given the number of people who bought into the recent shennanigans in Iraq, I doubt the average American has much more scientific savvy than the ninth-graders spoken of in the article.

3) "Fractional votes are completely contrary to the spirit of our democracy. Either let 14 year olds vote or don't let them vote, but don't patronize them as half-people."

Hm. So it's better to patronize them as non-people by giving them no votes?

4) The dreaded Pizza-For-Dinner Voter Initiative.

Even if it were a valid concern, one needs to realize that the other voting segments of the population won't be destroyed by the youth vote. I expect that laws that affect the young but no-one else - especially as pertaining to youth civil rights - would pass or fail on the youth vote alone, whereas something like a pizza-for-dinner law (which very mmuch does affect adults) would get a negative outpour from older populations.

But I feel I'm sullying my argument by even addressing this assinine claim.

Let's cut the age-ism, kids. That's all I'm trying to say. These are people who have few-if-any civil rights under the current system, whom we somehow envision as magically growing up to be people who understand their civic rights and responsibilities. It doesn't make sense to deny these people their representation.

And no, I'm not a parent, though I am a tutor, and have worked on youth issues in the past.
posted by kaibutsu at 10:24 PM on March 10, 2004


That's an authoritarian cop-out.

Perhaps, perhaps. But might it not equally be said that it's an elitist cop-out to say 'well, you know, I think democracy's a great idea, but I don't really like the idea of all those dumb, burger-eatin', trailerpark TV drones actually voting. They'd ruin everything'?

That smacks to me a little too much of buying into the same sort of process that the rich and powerful in our western (and eastern, more so, I'd add) nations have used to disenfranchize so many. Of a sort of fractal elitism - where the elite look down on those they perceive as their inferiors, who in turn fracture into an elite and and those they look down upon, and so on.

Reminds me a little like the old Stockholm syndrome, in a way -- the hostage coming to love his kidnapper and distrust his fellow captives. Or the slave coming to believe in the superiority of his masters, and the inferiority of his fellow slaves.

The death of politics in our societies is a really serious problem, and it absolutely won't be solved by forcing people to vote.

Maybe not, but neither, sadly are the other things you suggest going to happen, I don't think, wise suggestions as they are.

Also, tangentially, I deliberately mentioned community service as a penalty -- if so many were called upon to do work to improve and support their communities if they did not vote, I'd say that would be a powerful benefit, and the end result is win-win for the nation.

Barring that whole authoritarian thing. Heh.

So what's to be done?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:29 PM on March 10, 2004


Didn't we try that argument with women's suffrage?

I'm sorry, before reading any further, I have to ask you if you, kaibutsu, if you have any idea how insulting it is to equate the rational faculties of adult women with those of 14 year-olds. Christ. It's the same argument...APPLIED TO A DIFFERENT FUCKING GROUP OF PEOPLE. SO THEY'RE NOT EQUALLY VALID OR INVALID. This is the sort of shit argument that pops up all the time: oversimplify in two circumstances, then equate. "Cruise missiles and a carpet of bombs: both scary, explosive things that come out of the sky. So I don't see a difference." Makes me what to pull my ethernet connection out of the wall.
posted by Dasein at 10:37 PM on March 10, 2004


I think you'll find on closer inspection that kaibatsu was not equating the faculties of adult women with those of young teens, but suggesting that regardless of the group in question, making the assumption that people that are, as a group, dumb herd animals, uninformed and easily swayed, is a bad thing to do.

Unless you already pulled your ethernet connection out of the wall, in which case : never mind.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:43 PM on March 10, 2004


So what's to be done?

At least stav is being serious.

Okay, on elitism: there's nothing elitist about saying that people should be at least minimally informed before they vote. If there is, then I'm an elitist. I wouldn't want to take away the right of any adult citizen to vote, informed or not, but I don't think we should craft a system that ensures that a lot of people who couldn't give to shits are forced to vote.

To your question, well, I tried to propose some things that would help, and you said, correctly, that they wouldn't happen any time soon. Well, then, maybe we're stuck. Maybe there is no realistic, proper solution in the short term. But if things can get worse in thirty years (as they have) then they can get better in another thirty. All y'all south of the border should stop electing Republicans, for a start.
posted by Dasein at 10:45 PM on March 10, 2004


Okay, fair enough, maybe I overracted. Apologies if I was rude. He wasn't equating them, but the argument was certainly drawing a strong parallel - saying that a generalization was invalid in one case and is therefore invalid in the other. I don't agree.

Ageism is a lot more valid than sexism, because women are no less capable of thinking and drawing on their experience than men. Fourteen year-olds, on the other hand, don't have the experience or learning to draw on. So it's fallacious to say that the two generalizations are analagous.

It's not "ageist" to require drivers over 80, for instance, to requalify every year: there is a bona fide reason for worry. In the same way, it's not ageist to say that 14 (or 6) year-olds can't vote; there's a good reason for them not to.
posted by Dasein at 10:54 PM on March 10, 2004


As a 15-year-old, I don't really support this. If 14-year-olds have, on average, political opinions different enough from 18-year-olds to make a difference in the elections (other than by mere volume), it's more than likely due to lack of maturity, it's not like there's a generation gap there. 18 is a good age because it's when you get out of high school, which is considered the yardstick of when you're deemed a fully-prepared member of society.

Come to think of it, a perfect standard would be high school graduation. Under that system, when I take my GED in a couple months (homeschooled) I'd be able to vote, which seems about right. Seems like I deserve it more than someone who's 25, was expelled from high school due to violence and is living with his mother. That proposal would more than likely raise hell among both parties, though, since liberals would complain that it's prejudiced against the mentally impaired.
posted by abcde at 11:09 PM on March 10, 2004


ASFAR, incidentally, is no doubt ecstatic about this.
posted by abcde at 11:10 PM on March 10, 2004


Ageism is a lot more valid than sexism, because women are no less capable of thinking and drawing on their experience than men. Fourteen year-olds, on the other hand, don't have the experience or learning to draw on.

What I'm trying to get at here, and the reason I care about this issue so much, is that the young in our country are systematically denied basic justice and civil rights available to all other segments of the population because everyone regards them as 'just kids' and there is no one to stand up for their rights. They have no political representation, and any attempts to organize dissent are generally broken up by the school officials that hold so much power over their actions. This is a terribly oppressed class of people. I think the school shootings of recent years are generally (and definitely in the case of the Columbine incident) reactions to the oppressions of school and family life. These are people who should be given an opportunity to voice their concerns, and given an active political outlet. Period.

For what it's worth, I do agree with the tiered-voting system. No, a fourteen-year old should not be given the same voting power as a grown woman, for exactly the same reasons you state. (Though there are some damned smart teenagers and some idiotic adults in the world.) But these teenagers should be given a voice. They should be able to vote against school-board members who run on zero-tolerance platforms, and be able to make sure that their governing bodies have cause to listen to their concerns.

It's not a question of decision-making skills. Teenagers can make decisions and learn from their experiences. Otherwise, they would never become adults. It's a question of justice, civil rights, and representation for a people who have been too-long denied.
posted by kaibutsu at 12:31 AM on March 11, 2004


Very nicely put kaibutsu. Focusing on your school reference, as a parent, I spent much time in the schools for a variety of reasons (some good, some bad), and was almost always appalled at their treatment of our young. Our laws give these institutions a captive audience of sorts, and I think that power is abused there. Sure, it must be difficult to actually educate hordes of people, especially those that resist all of their good intentions, but that's a another issue that could tie in here by giving a voice to those most affected by it.

It shouldn't matter how informed or mature you are to at least have the same rights as ill-informed, immature adults. Maybe if we stop denying such rights, a sense of powerlessness would be erased and with it might go all that rage.
posted by LouReedsSon at 4:30 AM on March 11, 2004


Is there precedent for handing out "half votes" and "quarter votes"? Surely you've either got a vote or you haven't?
Not quite the same, but there is plenty of precedent for manipulating electoral boundaries so that, effectively, voters in some areas do not have the same "weight" as in other areas.

Way too late, but I would like to jump on the bandwagon led by stavros and state that compulsory voting is a good thing in many ways. While it does generate some straight party-line voting, every person in Australia over the age of 18 has to at least give passing thought to who they actually want to lead the country. As far as I am concerned, any person who has the right to a vote and chooses not to exercise that vote has absolutely no right to criticize or complain about the government that ends up being elected. Voting is not only a right, it is a responsibility. The crap that people spout about "making a silent protest" is just covering up laziness, in my opinion.

While there may be some 14 year-olds capable of voting and, conversely, many 40 year-olds who are not, even at 18, most people are very naive politically and not truly capable of properly weighing up the pros and cons and making that sometimes difficult decision to choose the best of a bad bunch in the best interests of the community as a whole. Also, to extend the concept of "old enough to fight, old enough to vote" - does that mean the US is planning to allow 14 year-olds to go to war? Maybe half-way to war?
posted by dg at 5:03 AM on March 11, 2004


I am not sure if this is a good idea or not, but it is certainly inteteresting and makes for a good discussion on a number of levels.

Evidently, California is not the only place considering a lower voting age.

Here is a good summary of the pro-vote arguments.

For what it's worth, Iran has the lowest voting age worldwide, at 15.
posted by TedW at 5:40 AM on March 11, 2004


I think I was more excited and active in politics at 14 than I am now... I was extremely excited on my 18th birthday because it meant I would be able to vote, and I did so about two weeks after my birthday (I had registered in advance), for some state senators or something.

Children's Express is a group which believes children as young as 8 have something important to offer to world issues. That website is for the UK office which apparently opened in 1995, but CE was active in NYC in the '80s when I was a kid, and friends of mine interviewed top politicians and executives (who often were a little unprepared, expecting the kids to ask about their favorite color or their pets, when instead they would dive in with hard-hitting questions on policy). Anyway, point is, children treated like children may have nothing to say, but given the opportunity to learn and think critically, are certainly capable of intelligent political views. Remember that just 100 years ago, about 90% of the population went to school only through maybe 7th grade, and then went out into the world to "seek their fortune" in one fashion or another - often as apprentices or active agents in their parent's business / farm / etc, but still, it isn't as if the age "14" has always or inherently meant/s clueless pop culture robot.

If our schools stressed critical thinking more than rote learning, I think we'd be in better shape to include younger people in the electoral process. Of course, most adults don't seem to use those skills either... Yeah, it all comes down to education in the end, I think. Experience helps, but it must be tied to learning, and if you've never really learned to learn, to separate the wheat from the chaff etc, then experience only creates blind habits or random individualized assumptions.
posted by mdn at 6:30 AM on March 11, 2004


I support this, although I would support giving 16 year olds a full vote. All for one simple reason:
At 18, they are eligible for the draft, and they should have at least one opportunity to sway the direction of their potential future.
posted by mischief at 7:07 AM on March 11, 2004


that the young in our country are systematically denied basic justice and civil rights available to all other segments of the population because everyone regards them as 'just kids'

I don't think that's because they're seen as "just kids." I think that's because they're simply not free people -- they're in the custody of someone else, unless a judge grants them emancipation.

I'm not sure what you're proposing -- to end the oppression of children by their parents by throwing them out into the legal world at some other equally arbitrary age? To have 15-year-olds making legally binding contracts?

and there is no one to stand up for their rights

They have the same set of rights as anyone else in someone else's custody. Parents, guardians, and judges, as the case may be, exercise their rights for them.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:02 AM on March 11, 2004


They have the same set of rights as anyone else in someone else's custody. Parents, guardians, and judges, as the case may be, exercise their rights for them.

Which would work great, except that it doesn't, and pretty much never has for any group of people.

Gender relations from a century ago are a great example - women's rights were supposed to be taken care of by fathers and husbands, and the result was a very large group of unhappy people, as you might recall. You can also look to the master-slave relationship prior to emancipation, which also relied on the master defending what few rights the slave had. The argument doesn't scan.

I'm mostly concerned about the school situation, at this point. As LouReedsSon put it, the authority figures in a high-school have a 'captive audience,' which often leads to abuses of power and willfully unjust disciplinary procedures. I don't think anyone should be forced into such a situation, regardless of their age.

I went to a high school that suffered heavily from these kinds of problems. I was suspended 'indefinitely' following the Columbine massacre, and was told by the principal not to expect justice. My younger siblings attended (and one is still at) the same school, and things apparently went from bad to worse in the time since I graduated. I recently heard of a new policy in force at this school in which, at the ring of the class bell, all classrooms are locked, and police corral anyone in the halls into the library for punishment.

Parents don't have to experience this stuff first hand. They generally hear it through the mouths of school administrators, who will do their best to frame the kids as out of control, and put forth the argument that without such harsh policies, the school system would grind to a halt. Such tactics get the parents on the side of the school rather than the student. People tend to take the side of the powerful in questions of justice; if the police are involved in the equation (as they more and more often are), there's even less chance of parents doing anything, as by that point, their kids are 'clearly' fuckups deserving of the discipline they recieve.

End result: A school full of people indignant at what amounts to a tiny totalitarian police state, with no power to change the oppressive system.

Parents furthermore don't have information concerning general discipline, they only see how it applies to their own child, and are therefore unqualified to make statements about the quality of justice within the school system. Thus, the youth, the ones who do have the drive, the experience, and the knowledge of the system, must be the ones to effect change.

I think that by giving the teenagers the ability to vote in local elections this problem could be remedied, as the students would likely have a huge impact on usually uneventful school board elections. They would be given a voice in their individual situations, and the ability to personally change that situation for the better, if need be.

The 'kids are too dumb to vote' argument doesn't really hold water, and there are compelling reasons to think that teenagers should be given the vote, as I've outlined above.
posted by kaibutsu at 9:10 AM on March 11, 2004


stavros, the virtually guaranteed result of mandatory voting in a country such as the USA is that a party called "NoVote" gets into power, voted in by all the lazy on the premise that they will abolish the mandatory vote. And then what happens for the next 5 years? I dunno, they never bothered to talk about that.

More importantly, it infringes on your rights as an individual to be compelled to do something you don't want to when you have harmed nobody, and by not doing such a thing, you will continue not to harm anybody.
posted by shepd at 3:03 PM on March 11, 2004


... it infringes on your rights as an individual to be compelled to do something you don't want to ...
Just like having to get a license to drive a car does, or any number of other things where you have to actually do something you don't want to in order to be able to do something you do. If you, as an individual, want to see a responsible government for your city/state/country/whatever, you have a responsibility to be part of the process of selecting that government. If you choose to ignore that responsibility, you get the government you deserve and have no right to complain about it.
posted by dg at 3:49 PM on March 11, 2004


In so many adults vain attempt to remain as youthful as long as possible, I'm convinced we hold our children back mentally/emotionally, preparing them slowly if at all for what often results in a slap in the face of reality. I don't believe this is intentional, but the way is seems to go all the same. Young minds are capable of far more than they're fed, and when the body is ready but the mind isn't, the conflict turns into rage. So we label them and shake our heads when in fact we have not lived up to our responsibility to them by ignoring their natural rights by imposing legal constraints, etc.

14 -17 year olds represent five or more percent (PDF) of US population. Imagine the stale system we now have being stimulated by a portion of all these young creative thoughts. Sure pizza for dinner is is silly, but are you so sure something great couldn't also come from treating these people with the same respect you demand? Let 'em vote. And let 'em eat pizza. Geez. :)
posted by LouReedsSon at 4:53 PM on March 11, 2004


A new tribe.

It would be like releasing a new species into the cultural environment; a coddled mob, unruly and enthusiastic - the grueling engine of the world still only a distant hum - they could try, from their uniquely protected treehouse, to preshape the society which waits to gobble them up. With luck, things could get interesting. Maybe even whimsical.

A new tribe. I like the smell of it.

Or, we could let adults continue to argue about what to have for lunch, while bodies and dreams and decades pile up in the backyard.
posted by Opus Dark at 6:00 PM on March 11, 2004


>Just like having to get a license to drive a car does, or any number of other things where you have to actually do something you don't want to in order to be able to do something you do

No, getting a license to drive a car is NOT required to drive a car. Getting a license to drive a car on land you don't own directly (ie: Highways, in the legal sense of the term) IS, however. Yes, you own the highway as a taxpayer, but it's owned as a communist(*) resource, where everyone gets the right to bitch about how it's operated, unlike your personal property.

That's the difference. You are still free to do anything you damn well please, that doesn't harm others (and, unfortunately, as the government has seen fit, yourself) as long as you do it on your property.

If you own a farm (or any other land large enough to drive on) and choose to let your 14 year old son operate a motor vehicle on it, that's your business. Nobody is going to arrest you. Nobody will complain (well, the insurance will when he wrecks it), nobody will send police to your door.

>If you choose to ignore that responsibility, you get the government you deserve and have no right to complain about it.

Heck, I never disagreed with that. Even if you participate in voting, whenever the government screws up (which, up to now, only ends up following my vote 10% of the time) I still say the citizens get exactly the government they deserve.

What I disagree with is someone being arrested and rotting in jail because they choose not to do something like voting.

(*) - Not socialist, as that would imply choice as to whether you can own it or not. You are forced, as a citizen, to own the highways, even if you don't pay taxes (good luck!), or are banned from driving on them. And, to fulfill the rest of the communist requirement, in most countries ownership of private toll highways is abolished.
posted by shepd at 7:03 PM on March 11, 2004


No, getting a license to drive a car is NOT required to drive a car.
That was probably a bad example. My fault.

Where do you get arrested for not voting? That does seem a bit harsh, to say the least.

Unfortunately, we do tend to get the government we deserve. Allowing 14 year-olds to vote would only exacerbate that situation, though. We all seem to agree that many 40 year-olds are not capable of making a rational voting decision - the percentage of 14 year-olds incapable of voting sensibly would be many time higher. Perhaps not to the point of having the latest host of MTV elected to office, but along the same lines.

FYI, private toll roads such as this one operate here, although they are not wholly owned by the company that built them, as they have "ownership" for a certain number of years and then they are handed to the government to neglect.
posted by dg at 8:54 PM on March 11, 2004


This is a class of people who have zero political voice, who are completely living at the whim of the 'adults.' It's bullshit, and it should change.

I agree completely. Teenagers should have the complete freedom shared by their adult captors. Let them pay their own rent, electricity, gas, telephone, cable, car payments, insurance premiums, health care, and food bills just like the rest of us! For too long we "adults" have had to suffer with these leeches feeding off our free time, money, and souls. It's bullshit, I tell you, and it should change.

Free parents from the shackles of "legal responsibility," and you'll have your vote.

Or, you could shut up and enjoy your youth, your spare time hanging out with your friends, your free education, and zero cost of living. Either way is fine by me.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:37 PM on March 11, 2004


14 year olds are the reason Adam Sandler is allowed to make movies. I do not want them anywhere near politics.
posted by RavinDave at 11:36 PM on March 11, 2004


>Where do you get arrested for not voting? That does seem a bit harsh, to say the least.

Australia (which has a mandatory vote) would arrest you eventually, assuming you refused to pay fines because you feel you should have the right not to vote. That pretty much stands for anything -- if you continually thumb your nose at the law, eventually you'll be arrested for even the most "innocent" of crimes.

Think of it as the law of last recourse. They'll even arrest you for not wearing seatbelts if you continually refuse to do what the law tells ya.
posted by shepd at 10:35 AM on March 12, 2004


YES!
Fu-k
YES!

If Schwartzenager can be the govenor of cali. then 14-17 yolds should be allowed to vote. If you can make money (legally work), you should be able to vote. WTHN? no one (30-40%) votes anyway. Besides it takes 4x14yld == 1x18yld
posted by xtian at 11:02 PM on March 12, 2004


Australia (which has a mandatory vote) would arrest you eventually, assuming you refused to pay fines because you feel you should have the right not to vote.
Well, technically, you would be arrested due to non-payment of the fine, but I see your point. I don't agree with it, but it is a valid point.
posted by dg at 5:48 PM on March 14, 2004


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