The polity that is Hyattsville (Maryland)

Hyattsville is considering a charter amendment that would lower the voting age to 16 as part of its effort to encourage more voter participation.

If adopted, the Prince George’s County city — home to 18,000 people less than a mile from the District of Columbia border — will follow Takoma Park in neighboring Montgomery County as the second municipal government in the nation to extend voting rights to minors.

There is more here.


A priori I don't think there's any reason this is a bad idea. Certainly 16-year-olds have a strong interest in lots of local political issues, e.g. spending on education. Obviously there should be some cutoff point (I don't think 5-year-olds should vote), but what are the arguments for setting the cutoff at 18?

There are two reasons why this is, a priori, a bad idea - it is child abuse.

It is child abuse in the political sense as it gives politicians a chance to try to indoctrinate children at an early age. Rather than allow the electorate to grow up and form their own political opinions, it is an attempt by politicians to shape their voting base by *legally* reaching down into schools and forming their own Young Pioneer organizations.

It is child abuse in the literal sense because now the voters will be asking politicians for favors. And no doubt there will be a lot of quid pro quo. Young girls do not have a great deal to offer politicians. But we can be sure they will be given a great deal of time over dinner and drinks. Now they are just demanding a respectable cover for "polling" their electorate.

Make the boundary age 25. That's about the age adult risk-aversion sets in, just a shade below the age when a woman gives birth to her first child, a year or two below the median age at first marriage, but north of the age when people have typically entered the work force full time and year round and have finished their schooling (at least for the time being).

Append to that a token payroll tax of 0.1% per paycheck. If one be between the ages of 15 and 25, one receives a voter registration card if one's annual payroll tax payments exceed a certain threshold (say $15 this year, then adjusted each year according to the change in nominal compensation per worker).

I think it went to 18 due to the Vietnam War, correct? One can die for this country (and at the time, be required to do so), but he may not vote?

You fancy we do not pay soldiers? The military pay scale for E-1 ranks (private, airman basic, seaman recruit) during their first year enlisted will be $1,547 per month this coming year.

I put trusting someone to be competent enough to choose whether to risk his life for his country on the same level as trusting someone to be competent enough to participate in the democratic process. I guess that's weird.

Jan's point was that if you're 18, you can be drafted. Not being able to vote at the same age as you can be required to join the army and go out and die seems like it's a weird view of adulthood.

Okay then we can invrease both the draft age and voting age to 25.

Are you sure both shouldn't be decreased to 14?

Michael B. Sullivan:

Jan's unacknowledged point was that he was too careless to read my second paragraph.

I read it and it doesn't make sense. You don't get to vote based on how much tax you pay. Paying to vote has be experimented with in this county and it went...poorly. Terrible idea.

A cutoff on age can be justified, but not at 25, not even close.

I read it and it doesn’t make sense

Jan, I can explain this to you. I cannot comprehend it for you.

There hasn't been a US draft since 1973, although registration is still required. A resident of the US between the ages of 18 and 26 must register for a potential draft, failure to do so is a felony. No one has been arrested or convicted for failure to register since 1984.

But if you want a civil service job or a security clearance, you'll need to swear you've registered, and may be asked for your registration number (as I was)...

How about a maximum voting age?

I support this, for driving.

It's clearly based on a matter of principle and has nothing whatsoever to do with the expectations regarding how those 16-17 year-olds will vote.

One standard would be to allow voting at the same age at which one can be tried as an adult in that state.

If you're not familiar with Takoma Park, its politics are not at risk of going conservative. This decision will have almost no effect on that.

One should always be tried according to the same fact finding procedures. What should change is the penalty schedule and the circumstances under which a defendant is in addition placed under the jurisdiction of probate courts and the like.

How should it change?

Voter participation is not the problem, it's merely the rational citizen reaction to the gross ineffectiveness of voting as a means of controlling their dysfunctional government/rulers.

We get pretty much the same lousy government overall no matter what happens in elections. Voting is irrational and most Americans act accordingly.

General election voter turnout for the 2014 midterms was the lowest since WWII. Only 36.4 percent of the voting-eligible population cast ballots; participation has been steadily dropping for decades. Almost two-thirds of Americans correctly recognize voting as a waste of time.

Only 36.4 percent of the voting-eligible population cast ballots; participation has been steadily dropping for decades.

No, it has not. Voter turnout in federal midterm elections has since 1972 fluctuated around a set point of 37%. As for presidential elections, the nadir was reached in 1996. Voter turnout in 2004, 2008, and 2012 exceeded the median of those years running from 1972 to 2000.

California for example votes on many things, often many more than most Europeans countries even discuss openly, let alone put on the ballot.

In principle, direct (or direct-ish) democracy sounds very appealing. But is California what we want?

The nice thing about California is when the right wins one of these ballot initiatives the left wing judiciary doesn't come in immediately and say "just kidding we are going to do it out way."

Just kidding.

I wouldn't go a far as to say low voter turnout is not a problem nor would I say that the non-voters see voting as a waste of time -- though I sure some do -- depending on how you're defining "waste of time". Which is why a say we should change the rules for counting votes and should start counting no vote as a vote against whatever's on the slate. That would at least be a voting system that provided more information about citizen preferences that the current one does.

Here in Europe we had tried couple of times with 16 years old voters. They always put extreme politicians to power.

And for USA ... they could vote but couldn't have sex?

Nor could they consume or purchase alcohol, gamble, serve in the army, get a hotel room/rental vehicle, or get into a strip club. Yet they could vote on all matters pertaining to these actions. Makes sense.

Or consume or purchase cigarettes.

Mmm mmmm good!

The non-extreme politicians gave you the Euro, mass immigration, and French labor law. The non juvenile voters gave you Francois Hollande.

"non juvenile voters gave you Francois Hollande"

Not sure I agree with that one.

If by 16-year-olds not having sex you are referring to statutory rape laws, then, yes, they can have sex. The age of consent in Maryland is 16, plus Maryland and other states have enacted Romeo & Juliet laws that relax stat rape laws when the participants are close in age (I.e., when the victim is younger than 16 but the perpetrator is fewer than (I think) 4 years older).

Why is high turnout always considered as a good thing? Quantity and quality is not the same. The world would be a better place if low IQ people didn't bother with voting. The same holds for very young people with zero life experience.

Yeah , restrict voting eligibility to economic stakeholders and or individuals exceeding a certain threshold of IQ.

Who is not an economic stakeholder?

I've always wondered, do the "Steve Sailer Commentariat" speak this way in public? or just on the internet comment sites?

Not sure about the “Steve Sailer Commentariat”, but who wouldn't say this in public?

Not allowing decisions to be made by the inexperienced a radical position?
Let the kids pick out their schools, and the house you buy?
College interns run the company?
What other pearls of wisdom do you have? I'll only list if you're 12 though. Which I suspect you are.

I’ll only listen...

A lot of people believe stupid people shouldn't vote. Including a lot of stupid people who don't know they are stupid.

awwww snap

That argument suggest they should also not be allowed to make their own economic decisions -- they will just distort production.

I suppose it could give them a chance to change the minimum wage laws that have effectively killed their chances at employment.

"Dude! Where's my ballot?"

It is strange that in Maryland a municipal council would have a franchise to that. Are you sure it is not some sort of non-binding resolution?

It's quite simple - the lower the voting age, the more Dem votes there will be.

Make it 6 and you'll never have another GOP victory again.

You think the Dugger kids will vote Democratic?

Democrats need ignorant and non-taxpayer people to get re-elected.

Conservatives need retired, medicare/social security dependent seniors to get re-elected.... (obviously I'm joking, but the knife cuts both ways when you start looking at demographics).

Are you implying that it is an equitable comparison?

Kids are more smarter in a way here in the Philippines; you can see it right away. They are more street smart, savvy, polite, not 'coddled' like in the USA. Not talking about raw IQ but everything else. And the minimum age for voting in all elections is 16 years old.

Can you please restrict your comments to your filipina girlfriend. We're all waiting for more details.

Pol Pot would approve.

Most people's political allegiance has congealed by about age 16 and never changes for the rest of their life. Might as well let them have their say once they have decided.

Most people at age 16 could not give you the name of their local congressman or the mayor.

The same could be said of 26, 46 and 66 year olds, unfortunately.

Since most people vote the way their parents voted, why not start at infancy?

Why not 15?

Not sure of their rationale, but you have to be 16 to drive and in many states that is the age after which they stop making you go to school. Age of consent, etc.

Back in New Mexico we got our driver's licenses at 15 years, and our learner's permits at 14 years 8 months. (This was in the 1980s... don't know if that's changed since.)

Clearly the question of the day but my two cents is that it's always going to be a largely arbirtary line but if we say someone can vote then we should also say they have reached the age of majority.

The real issue is how pets make their opinions known in the ballot box. Perhaps dog owners should get an extra vote for each shar pei or pug they keep as a companion. Labrador owners should get two extra votes per retriever.

No, cat owners only.

Expect more free concerts brought to you by local politician X.

Well, Maryland has slipped the driving age up to 16-1/2, and they can't drive with a friend riding in the car for the first five months. Younger voting and older driving. Back when the 26th Amendment lowered the federal voting age, 18-years-old was a common legal drinking age.

Reminds me of a comment a college professor of mine one made. In Germany kids can start drinking at 16 but cannot drive until 18. Just the reverse in the USA. So here we give the teenagers 2 years to begin thinking then really know how to drive and then let them start learning how to drink (even worse now with the drinking age raise to 21).

I'm sure there's an interesting economic insight about parents being the voters for the most part and if they voted to increase the driving age that would impose a direct cost on them in terms of transportation services.

By law young people 16 and 17 years old are required to attend high school, usually a public school. This means that most new young voters will be under the direct influence of members of the very-political teachers unions.

How do you keep the young voters from being intimidated by their teachers?

I would guess that this would give parents of 16 year olds more votes which is not bad but generally I would encourage people unwilling to get informed to not vote.

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