Age-Weighted Voting?

The young will experience the effects of policies passed today for the greatest length of time but this is not reflected in their voting power. Put differently, the time-horizon of (self-interested) older voters is short so perhaps this biases the political system towards short time-horizon policies such as deficit spending or kicking the can down the road on global warming. Philosopher William MacAskill offers an alternative, age-weighted voting.

…one way of extending political time horizons and increasing is to age-weight votes. The idea is that younger people would get more heavily weighted votes than older people, very roughly in proportion with life expectancy. A natural first pass system (though I think it could be improved upon) would be:

  • 18–27yr olds: 6x voting weight
  • 28–37yr olds: 5x voting weight
  • 38–47yr olds: 4x voting weight
  • 48–57yr olds: 3x voting weight
  • 58–67yr olds: 2x voting weight
  • 68+yr olds: 1x voting weight

Note that, even with such heavy weights as these, the (effective) median voter age (in the US) would go from 55 to 40. (H/T Zach Groff for these numbers). Assuming that the median voter theorem approximately captures political dynamics of voting, weighting by (approximate) life-expectancy would therefore lengthen political horizons somewhat, but wouldn’t result in young people having all the power.

… In this scenario, all citizens get equal voting weight, it’s just that this voting power is unequally distributed throughout someone’s life.

MacAskill asks the right questions:

  • Do younger people actually have more future-oriented views?
  • Does extending political horizons by 20 years provide benefits from the perspective of much longer timescales?
  • Are younger people less well-informed, and so apt to make worse decisions?
  • Is this just a way of pushing particular (left-wing) political views?
  • What would actually happen if this were put in place, and how good or bad would those effects be?
  • What’s the best mechanism for implementing age-weighting voting?
  • What would be the best plan for making age-weighting voting happen in the real world?

See the whole thing for some brief suggestions on answers.

I don’t have a major objection to the proposal, I just don’t think it would improve politics very much. Rational ignorance means that voters don’t know much and rational irrationality means that they don’t care to know more. The problem is collective decision making per se rather than the time-horizon of the non-existent median voter. Still the space of possible governance designs is far larger than the space that we have investigated, let alone used, so I applaud exploration in the design space.


Rational ignorance means that voters don’t know much

A ringing endorsement of the democratic process.

Let's be fair and balanced.

Governments are operated by men, not angels. I call it infallible ignorance.

Re: Tax-weighted voting.

Taxpayers pay for it. Federal/state dependents (illegal immigrants, asylum scammers, public employees/teachers unions, serial-generations of welfare clients) get it.

Home owners/taxpayers - 6x
Taxpayers - 4x.
Gov. employees 3x.
Food stamps, Medicaid, welfare recipients - 1x.
Young women of color - 1x.

This is fun.

Will secretaries have more votes than billionaries?

Under my system of taxable income based voting (a post further down), whoever pays more taxes (in absolute terms), gets more votes. So, if the secretary pays more because the billionaire boss is playing IRS tricks, then tough luck to the billionaire boss. This will encourage people to report more, not less, on their taxes.

One dollar, one vote!

So, as that billionaire was being sued for millions in taxes not paid at the time, would he eventually get those votes? Maybe if the IRS has got to chase you for it, you get no vote credit.

You can't have your cake and eat it too.

What a great idea!!! Of course it should also includes increasing their taxes by the same factor. 18-27 YO would then pay 6 times the taxes of the average American. Seems fair to me. Unless this idea was ONLY to give certain people a huge political advantage.

Retirees with little income would no longer have much of a vote....might be a good thing.

Perhaps you could store your voting credits and use them as desired. Save them like other savings.

As a taxpaying government employee my vote is 4x3 = 12x weighted!!! :-)

Not really clear why government employees (who are effectively welfare recipients) should get 3x.

I'd be down with giving non-REMF military members 3x, however.

Government employees already have influence on how our system is run, so 1x is already too much power.

Plus, gov employees are incentivized to vote for their interests: better pay, benefits, etc..

Imagine if private sector employees could elect their managements (president, governors, mayors) and boards of directors (legislators and judges).

I'm shocked. Shocked. No one has stated that my wild-eyed (not more so that the initial post) comment is "racist" or "fascist."

As long as police, ice, homeland security (lol) and "the military" are all consideted government employees I'm with you on this one.

Police, military, etc. get voting points for being willing to put their lives on the line for anything except their own hides, a trait all too uncommon in our r-selected society.

There are many more dangerous occupation than police. Or ice. Lol. 80% of military are never near any danger.

They are all government employees.

Construction and agriculture are more dangerous. We reward those workers by importing cheap labor from the 3rd world to compete with them.

So lets give them defined benefit pensions after 20 years and healthcare for life instead!

Should be age-weighted and net-tax paid tax weighted. Net welfare recipients such as government employees do not have the right to vote.

The few young billionaires such as Zuckerberg would be in possession of a large fraction of the political power.

When I saw the headline, I thought "Ha -- It's true, in a perfect world, the votes of people in their 20s would be worth less than those in their 50s. They do tend to be immature dolts just looking to reward themselves."

Of course, to Tyler, that means that kids' votes should be weighted MORE.

>I don’t have a major objection to the proposal

You're just not a bright man.

And, by the time they realize the impact of their decisions, it's too late to change anything, because their votes have lost their power.

P.S., the post was by Alex, not Tyler, although it's getting harder to tell the two apart based on content. the person proving 'Transnational Pants Machine' is smarter than Alex, or Tyler. Either one.

Lee Kwan Yew once suggested that people with children should get two votes instead of one. By that logic, people with children should get an extra +8 votes under this system

People with children: 10x voting weight

The childless have a kind of nihilist sense of luxury that is foreign to us bourgeoisie.

Do people with children born out of wedlock also get 10x voting weight?

Actually you could just do:
final votes = age votes * number of children

Do you factor in the children's ages? If the question is about skin in the game, I'd think you should. So a 40 year old with 6 kids under 18 gets 6x6+4 votes? Presumably the kids get split between spouses somehow.

Married couple gets 2 votes cast jointly
+1 vote per child up to 5

No one else votes.

haha, so there's going to be a divorce/never married penalty =)

One could make the argument that the weighting should be reversed. If you vote to cut social security benefits in half, younger people have decades to plan around that, while retired people are entirely dependent on whatever today's laws allocate.

This is a very sensible argument but it's probably a one-off. Once social security benefits are cut, they won't be increased again by young voters. A similar argument can be made for college tuition in the current system. The old generation who has benefited from free college (e.g. UK) had an incentive to make young people pay for college without supporting the cost of it.

Social Security and college tuition are two things that may cut in opposite directions (one benefiting the old and one benefiting the young), but even if these two groups do vote oppositely for selfish reasons, the basic point remains: Old people less self-reliant, more in need of government services, and less able to adjust to whiplash changes in policy.

I kinda thought the same thing, but for a different reason. In terms of rational ignorance, age and experience don't always translate into knowledge or wisdom, but the fact remains that the young tend to be more ignorant than the old.

I don't see why it is easy to proclaim that the young are more ignorant than the old. In my experience the more important attribute is propensity to consider alternatives to current beliefs. Older people are far less likely to change their opinion, and i'm sure there is some logical reasoning that would lead to placing the cohort least likely to change views as the cohort often most wrong.

are you more ignorant than you were when you were younger? This is comical stuff.

Looking forward to weight weighted voting.

They literally have more skin in the game.

I’ll see myself out.

Not bad sir. I gave it a chuckle.


Would this age-weighting voting scheme be used in legislatures too? That's what I thought ...

AOC's vote = 5x Pelosi's

Young people doesn't vote as much as the old. Voter turnout from 2018 US midterm elections : 18-29 35.6%, 30-44 48.8%, 45-64 59.5%, 65+ 66.1%

In practice, 65+ YO people has a 2x voting weight.

The issue here is that the 35.6% 18-29 YO that actually votes would be given a lot of power based on......nothing. I don't see how's better than the present condition. At least now the outcomes can be blamed on young people's laziness.

Conservatives seem to push the idea that they will never be old(er).

For example, conservatives argue:

"The young should never be required to pay the health care costs of the old."

Thus Obamacare was forced to include age bands with premiums significantly higher for those currently old, lower for those currently young, in an attempt to gain broader support.

But all it did was ensure that insurance premium increases were locked into the system.

After all, few young people declare, "I refuse to pay the higher cost of being old", and then commit suicide at 25.

Obamacare by setting a maximum share of income going go health care costs simply gives a bonus to high income young workers who will delay getting subsidized insurance longer. Low and middle income workers get subsidies from the start, just as workers with employer benefits, but the subsidies increase with age, just as employer benefits do, where age rating are prohibited by Federal and I believe all State law regulating employer benefits.

Remember, Medicare was to cover everyone, but its passage required the support of conservatives who divide voters up to put one age group against the others. While Democrats proposed Medicare, the benefits go to the age group most likely to vote for conservatives. Which in 1965 was still blue dog Democrats.

When I was a young adult, my dad talked to me about how both of us were paying taxes to allow his mother, my grandmother to live independently. As a pastor, my dad has seen the family problems in caring for parents. The struggles of young families. The helplessness of the older parents, and guilt, of burdening their kids. Later, as he retired, in significant degree due to the demands of caring for his wife, my mother, who was suffering health problems, he reminded me, the taxes I paid meant I did not need to figure out how to accommodate them.

He didn't come out and state the reality: I was going to get old, unless I had no future, ie, died early.

Everyone almost certainly wanted to be old, given the only alternative dying young.

Given that, at age 18, you should be voting as a future 80 year old in 62 years.

"The young should never be required to pay the health care costs of the old."

The idea that twenty-somethings (who, as a group, have low wealth and income) should -- or even could -- pay more in order to subsidize the healthcare of seniors was one of the dumbest ideas around.

No one should be required to pay the health care costs (or other private goods) for ANYONE ELSE. Government's job is the provision of public goods, I.e. things we all share equally. Health care is a private good. Redistribution is theft.

Healthcare is a semi-public good, therefore it's appropriate for it be partially paid for by the public.

The public good portion, vaccinations, cost how much ?

“Still the space of possible governance designs is far larger than the space that we have investigated let alone used“

The reason for this is that it’s very hard to change. Status quo bias, lock-in, vested interests, etc make it nearly impossible. That’s why one should be cautious about leaving a relatively stable political state. If you’re really wrong, you can’t get back.

Should life expectancy be cooked into the formula? Should unhealthy people receive a smaller weight? What about intelligence? Or wealth?

Raise the voting age to 40, at least.

I was going to say 25

In all seriousness, 25 is probably the right answer. (Or 26, if you want to rule out the people who are still on Mommy's health insurance.)

There is a certain logic - you get the rights of citizenship when you take on the responsibilities e.g., to provide for yourself.

Then again, that probably means we need to change the draft age to 26.

And that is why millionaires who inherited their fortunes can't have the rights of citizenship, except being president, of course.

How about 18 or...whenever you're no longer claimed as a dependent on somebody else's tax return, whichever is greater?

"Then again, that probably means we need to change the draft age to 26."

Just kill what's left of it (e.g. registration -- which is probably going to die now that the men-only version has been declared unconstitutional).

Cowen is on a roll (and theme) today. De facto disenfranchising of voters likely to support Medicaid and other social welfare programs for the poor has become the policy of the Republican Party, so why not de jure disenfranchising of older voters who are the block that maintains support for social security and Medicare. You see where this is going: confuse voters with propaganda (via social media, racism, etc.), disenfranchise voters through artificial roadblocks (via impediments to registration, voting, etc.), and weighting voting to advantage the preferred voting block (via age, wealth, etc.). I sympathize with the view that ignorance and irrationality are widespread, but I'm not so sure we can agree on who the ignorant and irrational are. I've made the case in earlier comments today that Gutti and many other libertarians are not only ignorant and irrational, but totally unaware of their ignorance and irrationality, and would seek to undermine liberal democracy in the belief that by magic a libertarian utopia will emerge rather than chaos and authoritarianism and oppression.

Looks like Tabarrok decided to join the chorus.

Indeed. A great idea. The young are easy to convince that people with glasses should be murdered. And of course anyone young wouldn't know what I'm talking about.

sure, let's do it at the household level. Rights of kids count 6X those of parents. It's going to go very well.

I propose, the more you earn and the more you contribute to the society, the more your vote counts. Also, those without children shouldn't have rights at all, as they free ride on some one else's children work.

> It's going to go very well.

I welcome our next President, Kim Kardashian's an improvement over the status quo

Weighted voting, whether based on age or some other demographic feature, is a horrible idea. It undermines a core principle of democracy: one person, one vote.

Yes, under an age-based scheme, everyone would have the same relative voting power over a lifetime. But for any given election, some voters would matter much more than others.

That, in turn, would drive politicians to cater to those who would give them the biggest bang for their campaign buck: the roughly one-third of young people who vote regularly. After all, as individuals, they would have 5 or 6 times the voting power of senior citizens under this scheme. These committed young voters, like all committed voters, would not be representative of the population as a whole in terms of education, political preferences, and ideological extremity. And so we would have policies developed in Washington, DC, that satisfy their demands, not the needs of the majority. For a democracy to maintain its legitimacy, the majority ought to prevail most of the time (the exception being when the majority supports illiberal policies that would harm vulnerable or unpopular minorities).

In other words, this scheme of weighed voting would turn the US from a gerontocracy to a kind of "twentysomething-ocracy " (for lack of a better term). I doubt such an arrangement would produce better policies or create greater public confidence in political institutions over the long term.

Institute mandatory voting before implementing weighted voting, I say.

There is no such principle. Voting has never been universal and never will be. There have always been large classes of people with a stake in voting outcomes who are denied the vote.

Voting has always been a matter of public policy, not a right.

In the early years of the American republic, sure. But not anymore. See the 15th Amendment: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." See also the 19th Amendment: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

Could work, but the weights seem way imbalanced, looks like that of an aristocratic feudalism. It should be between 0.75 - 1.25x. So like:
18-40: 1.25x
40-60: 1x
60+: 0.75x
Also, people with higher than average tax rate should get a +0.25x bonus, so a 60+ person who has high income and doesn't do any tax avoidance could also be worth 1x.

He who is not a liberal when young has no heart; he who is not a conservative when old has no brain.

I was going to quote that to Mulp upthread who said that conservatives never think about getting old. Sir, I thought the complaint WAS that most of us ARE old(er).

When the book of Mulpisms gets published that will be aphorism number one.

Conservatives have been lacking in gray matter these days. No heart, no brain, no courage to stand up to the deeply unconservative Angry Orange. Would make a great character in the Wizard of Oz.

Is it serious?

we reckon its either a bold step for identity politics/intersectionality
or another large morning turd from the postmodernists

I suggest weight-weighted voting.

I suggest weight-based taxes. Big people are a bigger burden on the public infrastructure. And think of the incentive to lose weight.

That's interesting and raise potentially a lot of interesting question. I feel a more immediate and pressing reform would be to abolish disenfranchisement based on age. One should be able to vote from birth (with a parental proxy until a certain age). At least a child should be allowed to vote at the same age as they can technically go to prison (which is 0 in 13 states). If a child is considered mature enough to go to prison, they should be able to vote.

In most states once you go to prison you lose your right to vote.


That only applies to felons, and even those laws are getting repealed in many places.

....people other than felons go to prison?

Alternative voting arrangements for universal democracy is simply rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Alex gets pretty close to the truth when noting that the prole is neither knowledgeable enough to make an informed political decision nor motivated to become knowledgeable, but stops short of making the logical conclusion to that statement, ironically because it invokes the most passionate response from the proles themselves.

I think even closer to the truth is no system of voting matters all that much in an oligarchy such as the US.


But we don't really need age weighted voting. We just need to get out the vote. Why not an election day holiday?

Because then it would be easier for people with regular jobs to vote, and people with regular jobs tend to lean Republican. So that's never gonna happen.

In MA, it's a holiday for the schoolteachers, who can then easily vote Dem at home.... and still have time to drive to neighboring NH and hold signs, get people to the polls, and probably vote Dem again. This is how it's done.

"We just need to get out the vote" We should respect the right of those who chose not to vote. You're not anti choice are you?

More people might vote if there were a "None of the above" option on the ballot for every race.

With every day that passes, there are fewer people in America who have direct experience of nature, or of rural life. I can't imagine wanting to speed the process of making them irrelevant, and ceding pre-eminence to people who have never been more than 5 miles from a Target.

I feel sorry for people who spend their whole childhoods next to a freeway, with few chances to experience anything else. They may have more years ahead of them, but I definitely wouldn't defer to their judgment on anything as important as climate change, nor on much beyond urban issues, maybe the trivial health insurance plan stuff that so consumes everybody.

"Where were you built?" remains an important consideration.

That's the beauty of the electoral college.

It is beautiful - that's becoming more obvious all the time.

Hard to out-think those dudes.

I had thought of adding that too. As kids we thought they were infallible, then we start questioning their wisdom, and finally grow enough to realize the real wisdom in the Constitution. Stages of maturity in thinking.

Following Thomas Jefferson's argument that the the current generation has no right to bind future generations, another way to use life expectancy -- and another recipe for disaster -- is to require all laws to lapse after the current generation's life expectancy. For Jefferson, that was 19 years.

You misunderstood his argument. Current generations cannot bind future generations because of the ability of legislatures to change laws and the ability to amend the constitution.

Against this proposal: The lower turnout among younger voters themselves suggest that they do not see themselves as having more skin in the game than older people.

Always amusing the contortions of imagination the moderators will display to (1) avoid discussing actual problems and (2) please the other shmucks in the faculty rathskellar.

Everybody drink!

Lurking !

When you're young, you think you're going to live forever, and you have no sense of history, so you can't plan for the future, and when you're old, you know you're going to die soon, so you don't care .
People in the middle have enough years ahead to care about the future, and the experience to actually make sensible plans for it.
Moreover people in the middle are more likely to have children that are too young to vote.

Perhaps a simpler solution would be to weight parents votes by the number of under voting age children or dependents they have.

Maybe you mean not "children they're raising", not "children they have"? Otherwise you'd run into some perverse incentives with adopted children, and into some interesting fringe cases - say, sperm donors?

I don't think that an extra vote is enough incentive to adopt.
But yeah, I mean legal dependents, not kids you gave up for adoption.

Your logic is right on, but maybe the solution is give the vote to those 25- retirement.

People in middle age have no less need for any degree of mutual and state support for either reason (nurture or late life care), and are most likely to have accrued high incomes and wealth and be keen to cut taxes on both (probably while imposing burdens on new entrants to the market at the same time, though).

Observing the above, why am I not surprised at all that Hazel cheerleads for more political influence to them on the flimsiest justification?

Giving the least experienced, least educated, and most impulsive people more voting power will be great. After all, with great power comes great responsibility, and all those 18-year-olds will rush to educate themselves on policies and candidates so they'll make the most informed choices.

A modification of an earlier suggestion: income-weighed voting. The higher your taxable income, the more your vote counts. No ceiling. After all, in a progressive tax system, the rich are paying more for public goods than others. Other than being fair, this will encourage the rich to report all income as taxable and increase our national income. Just in time to pay for all the wise financial choices those empowered young voters have made.

In order for a 20-year-old to represent her 40-year-old future self, she must have some ideal what that 40-year-old self will want.

But is there any evidence at all this is so? If you compared what 20-year-olds said they thought their 4o (or 60, or 80) year-old selves would want, and then asked them what they wanted when they actually reached these ages, how do you think they'd do?

I think they'd do very poorly. If so, then you'd have to conclude that a 20-year-old voter can represent only the present and not the future.

But if the 20-year-old can only represent the 20-year-old at age 20 and not potential future selves then the logic for age-weighted voting collapses.

A good guide to future consciousness is how well a person takes care of themselves now in anticipation if their future.

So, if you drink heavily, smoke, do drugs, or are fat, you don't get the age-based vote multiplier. We can check heavy drinking with random liver function tests. Smoking and certain drugs with random urine tests. Fatness with a scale and calculator. You can opt in, so no civil rights are violated.

This all started out as an idiotic idea pushed by Alex, but the ad absurdum extensions are soo much fun.

So this is how we get Kanye West elected president?

Nonsense. The young have the greatest opportunities for policy reversals.

Example: if I died today, the majority of my Medicare and social security payments over my lifetime would be forfeited forever. But if congress and the president repeals those tomorrow, the young get instant benefits that I will never receive.

The young can also do what Baby Boomers did: greatly expand benefits for themselves.

“Put differently, the time-horizon of (self-interested) older voters is short so perhaps this biases the political system towards short time-horizon policies such as deficit spending or kicking the can down the road on global warming.”

Maybe, but I doubt it for anybody older who has children. I am 60+ with several children and my voting behavior is very much influenced by how I see their future. I also prefer candidates for public office who have children over those who don’t.

Any kind of weighted voting will never get broad acceptance. If anything, we should get rid of existing weighted voting and move to a true one person-one vote system. A vote in Wyoming is about 8x the weight of mine.

God help us. Young people, for the most part, do not vote as though they have a long time horizon. They vote as though they will always have a crap job, no money, no children or family and certainly never own a business. Not to mention the obvious observations about maturity. Besides, older people with children may well have long time horizons anyway, and some wisdom to boot.

I prefer the ideas of taxes-paid weighted voting.

Well the first obvious thing would be to add votes for people with children. If we cannot expect seniors to have a time horizon that accounts for the interests of general young people then I fail to see how we can have anyone account for the time horizons of people net yet capable of voting. The best proxy for their interests would be parents and from the pattern, this suggests that parental votes should be weighted at 7x or 8x per child (or 3.5x and 4x if splitting the child's votes per parent). Each of the Duggars, for instance should be expected to currently vote at around 30x if we take this proposal's basic assumptions seriously.

Another fun impact would mean that we would need to be very careful about age verification. For instance, immigrants often shave years off their age to qualify for "minor" provisions. Reducing your stated age by 5 years would give you a cumulative +25x over your lifetime. So now we should do a bone study with every naturalization. Nor is this going to be easy to manage, with families that share names it would become imperative to impeccable voting rolls to prevent fairly substantial voter fraud potential. Particularly, as the entire premise is that the oldsters will harm youngsters for their own benefit; Sr. stealing Jr.'s ballot seems like it would then be an expected problem. This would certainly require significantly more scrutiny at the ballot box, maybe mandatory ID checks.

Likewise, how does this work for apportionment? Just using the resident count would undermine vast amounts of this sort of scheme - Florida for instance has many fewer young so the weighting in its congressional districts would be far less relative. Conversely, Utah and California have some very young districts where, again, the weighting becomes much less impactful. Would we need to reweight apportionment by voter age? Would that not require a citizenship question on the census?

Further if we are serious about weighting life expectancy, should we then examine your medical status? Say removing 1x for being a smoker. Or losing 2x for meeting alcohol use disorder criteria. And of course, the easy one would be to knock off voting weight from populations that are correlated with living shorter lives: the single, the irreligious, and the poor for a start.

After all, if we are basing our franchise on how long someone's "time horizon" is, then it is abundantly clear that smokers, heavy drinkers, and high risk drug users all have much shorter time horizons. Also for fun, ex-felons have drastically lower life expectancy (losing roughly 2 years of life expectancy for every year incarcerated), so we would likely want to cut them down substantially.

Then, of course, we come to race and gender. Should women get a bonus .5x? Should blacks lose a .5x? After all, a woman's time horizon is several years longer than her male counterpart. Similarly racial disparities in life expectancy should result in whites and Asians gaining voting power at the expense of those with shorter life expectancies.

Frankly the whole thing is idiotic. We know that this is not how people's time horizons actually work. The estate tax, for instance, is loathed by the old even though, by definition, it falls after their alleged political horizon. The elderly have favored drilling for oil in places like ANWR, which again was beyond their alleged time horizon (e.g the old talking point about it being 10 years before oil exploration gives rise to new gasoline). And let us not forget military procurement; for the average 65 year old, pretty much all the cutting edge military R&D provides nothing for them. Stealth, for instance had about a 20 year lag between its R&D spend and its first combat use (and arguably more like 25 before it made a serious difference). Yet it is the elderly who voted most strongly for military build ups and the older committee members who most protected the military budgets in the 70s and continue to do so today. Similar it was young, not the old, who were pressuring for the cancellation of the Apollo program.

The old do not vote like their time horizon truncates on their death. They do not even vote like the future has a massive discount rate when it comes to things like military R&D vs present procurement. What actually sets the old apart are their political beliefs. They are opposed to some (but by no means all, and certainly not based on some time discounted metric) climate change proposals and to cutting social security/raising taxes. Shockingly, I expect that this sort of proposal will engage in frank age discrimination rather than apply vote weighting to all the other correlates of decreased life expectancy.

At age 70.6, I am OK with this proposal.

another exercise in time wasting voting reform ideas while missing the main point. These are the swing states that decide who is president: FL, PA, MI, WI, and NH. That's it. The average age in these states is greater than the national average age. So the electoral college system, an anachronism that serves no useful purpose at all and is supported only by spurious and specious arguments, is plainly biased against the young. I absolutely guarantee that neither Tyler nor Alex will even recognize this point, much less endorse it.

Whew - it’s a good thing we only have elections for president.

>the electoral college system, an anachronism that serves no useful purpose at all

This is false.

So the electoral college system, an anachronism that serves no useful purpose at all

It protects voters in Wisconsin from seeing their vote diluted by ballot box stuffers in California and Arizona.

False. It prevents the popular election of the Presidency. Every other kind of voting, House reps, Senators, mayor, schoolboard, etc. is done by popular vote. Electoral college is failing voters.

It didn't occur to you that the tallies in Wisconsin aren't influenced by ballot-box stuffers in California and Arizona. It also doesn't occur to you that national popular vote is going to require federal elections administration. Oh, happy day.

What's perfectly obvious is that partisan Democrats are irritated by anything that stands in their way. In recent years this has included the electoral college, the ability of corporate bodies which might favor their opposition to purchase advertising (while the New York Times Co. can say what it pleases unimpaired, the capacity of the opposition to give speeches on college campuses, the capacity of the opposition to use social media platforms, that pesky principle that only citizens may vote, and that pesky principle that ACORN types don't get to stuff the ballot boxes.

The problem we are tying to save is the generational defaults we do on a certain, 100% basis. We do it with gold, we do it with debt money we do it with pegs; every generation does some partial defaulting.

Defaults cannot be eliminated, government debt is, in fact, risky. sorry to inform you folks, but most of you knew this.

The solution is to partially default more often, like every 15 years instead of a larger default every 50 years. The legal mechanism is for the banks to buy the right to coin on a 15 year license for a quantity of money that induces Congress let the Fed act as an independent currency banker, then purchase a renewal option in 15 years. Depending upon the bribe Congress needs, this is entirely doable, and I know how to get around the sacredness of debt clause in the 14th.

The bad news is that Congress wants a guaranteed default of about 12 T of debt over the two contract periods, totaling 30 years. I do not know of any other answer, we will default. Either we bite the bullet and get a default contract from Congress, or we have a great big fat depression during the defaults. Our choice, we created the mess.

At what point is my vote only worth 3/5th of my kid's vote? Thank goodness that we already ironed this out back in the 1800's.

I've been thinking of different versions of "bicameralism". The US has two parliaments, one in theory representing the people, and one representing the states, and only if both agree, legislation can be passed.

What if instead you had one parliament representing the younger half of the electorate and one the older half?

-its a marxist proposal
-it is by definition antidemocratic
-and it looks the like sorta proposal that nekked barnie sanders (harvard, nocturnalchildrensfoodthief?) would get behind in order to gusher in socialiasm ,not to fix democracy

To give the young a greater voice, how about just lowering the voting age to 16? A handful of countries have done that, Austria for instance.

Nothing bad ever came from Austria, so let's do it.

Maybe we should make the reason for weighting 8 to 17 year olds at zero explicit. Then we can follow that reasoning consistently.

The fact that people are willing to spend time arguing about methodologies for vote tallying highlights the fact that western democratic societies have allowed entirely too many areas of live to fall under government control or influence.

Wait! I suffered for 72 years, gaining practical knowledge, wisdom, and many bruises and hard knocks, only to find out that MY VOTE IS SHRINKING!!!!! I don't think so.

Christian Missionaries should get extra votes. After all, they are concerned with both the ultimate fate of the world and what happens to us for all eternity. You can't beat that, right?

I think many miss the point that this idea is not necessarily for the US, but for countries with extremely aging population, like Germany or Japan. It's super easy to win an election there by just proposing a raise in state pension if 40% of the voters depends on it. Even if the economic rational says retirement age should be raised or payments reduced - so in most cases elderly population do bias the political system, which should be corrected. Not sure if it's antidemocratic, but the alternative is risking the financial stability of a country (or even a default), which is not so uplifting.

If anything votes should probably reflect the opposite trends than Askill suggests:

- greater power with cumulative lifetime investment, rather than future potential gains

- those with fewer time to live should be accorded more say over the here and now, as they have fewer future options to enjoy a voice

The first is arguable on the principles that representation should reflect a reward and incentive for investment over time.

The second on the egalitarian principle. To disenfranchise and penalize those who already have a limited lifespan is quite obviously wrong; it's odd that those who feel this would be the case if we were talking about, say, soldiers or people in risky professions, or cancer patients, statistically likely to die, would argue for the opposite when it comes to the old.

According more votes to the young tends to be popular with those who really lust for disruptive change (or who support policies that tend to be less popular with older demographics - e.g. Remaining in the EU in Britain).

But I don't think there is a strong intellectual case for violating egalitarian principles with it, nor for unjustly penalizing those most likely to have invested in the system over time and who already face the disadvantage of more limited time in which to change and affect society.

I'm surprised nobody's brought up Heinlein vetern-weighted voting scheme i.e., you have to earn your right to vote through dangerous service.

Our youth are exposed to dangerous microaggressions on a daily basis. Not to mention peanuts on planes. That should count.

Wouldn't work until our space force is powerful enough to reach Klendathu.

If I were the chief executive, and my following gravitated towards older people rather than younger people, I would quickly find excuses to begin a war and draft the young were this voting policy to be implemented.

The basic idea is that those with the most to lose should have the most votes. Thus, votes prioritized by wealth. Ah, wait a minute, ...

Put some skin in this game. A voter selecting weighted voting must use the same age bracket for family counselors, therapists, doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, accountants, plumbers, electricians, vets. Their voting card, in fact, must also be presented to merchants, salespersons, etc to age match. Should a voter prefer to avoid the age match, weighting is voided.

I just love the idea that someone has proposed going around to the elderly and middle-aged and saying "Hey, your vote should count for less, because you're almost dead"

...and then Alex putting down in writing, for the entire world to see, "I don’t have a major objection to the proposal."

This guy gets paid to teach America's youth, people.

Alex and Tyler are the only bloggers I know of who troll their own blogs. I don't know of any other way to explain many of their posts.

I've reached the point where the AT by-line on a post is a red-flag. His contention here is that, as a group, 18 year olds make better decisions, 6X more better, than 68 year olds. Of course, what is "better" is subjective and moot. But lets say we want to validate that idea. What metric(s) should we use? Number of marriages ending in divorce? Proportion of income being saved for "the future"? Earnings? Wealth?
The concepts of fluid intelligence and crystalline intelligence are applicable here. Isn't it a fact that most 18 year olds can not (or do not) support themselves (in the USA)? Isn't it a fact that most 18 year olds are considered by developmental psychologist to not be mature as far as their ability to consider consequences? But I've got a modest proposal. Rather than weighing the votes by age of the voter, weigh them by the age of the candidate. For instance, HRC vs DJT in 2016 would have had their votes weighed at ~16.2:15.5. If the 'logic' is younger make better decisions, shouldn't that apply even more to our elected officials?

Alex never says 18 year olds make better decisions. Read before write.

Do we then apply similar weights to determine Congressional districts?

To the extent that younger people are going to experience the effect of decisions for longer and therefore need more votes, don’t we already do that? A 20 year old who lives to age 80 gets 60 more votes; a 70 year old who lives to 80 gets 10 more votes.

Everyone gets one life-year worth of impact per annual election, so there is no reason that a 20 year old feels the impact of decisions any more than someone older. Now if the author proposed that the 20 year old could use all 60 votes in one election and never vote again, then exploring the (likely strange!) consequences of that could be interesting!

“One man, one hundred votes, one time”?!

AOC and her crowd were not even born when Reagan bailed out Texas in the S/L fiasco. Yet we still pay interest charges, having rolled the cost over and compounded it for 40 years. Why would she vote to pay it? She is within her moral right to default.
The right to coin gives her the right to default, but the 14th makes government debt sacred. So AOC has a constitutional issue which we have to get around, on her behalf.

Next April AOC will be paying real taxes for the first time in her life. I'd like to be there to see her reaction.

Giving 18 year olds the most power in a political system strikes me as insane. If we weight by age, why not by wisdom or success?

Let's remember that a sixteen years old boy is something like seven times more likely to die during his first year driving. That stat is twenty years old, but still informative regardless of whether the ratio evolved.

Lee Kuan Yew made a suggestion like this in his excellent book, although he thought there should be heavier weight on people with families. The young and old are more likely to support reckless policies for today and the long term future.

Young voters are stupid and naive so they should get less votes.

Why is it assumed that having more future oriented views is good? I mean, it might be, but I'm not certain.

A rough proxy for low time-preference and skin-in-the-game would be minimum age 21, fee simple property owner. Might even limit it further by distributing only a single vote per household.

The young are mostly net tax-consumers. If votes are going to be weighted, it should be based on net tax production.


Government employees in particular, who effectively get three votes.

I believe this is what led to the post-apocalyptic world of "Logan's Run."

Wasn't it my lyric about dying before getting old?

Let's do it right. Restrict voting to birth years 1965-79.

If we cut out boomers and millenials the level of stupid is bound to go way down.

The reason why we use various forms of democracy is not to have effective government, although that can be a fortunate side effect. It is to reduce politically motivated internal violence. Two obvious tweaks are (1) Compulsory voting -- or at least compulsory turn up at a polling booth and have your name marked off or receive a fine voting. (2) Laws that prohibit lying in politics in much the same way many countries prohibit lying in advertising.

Oh, and in the US and a few other places, get rid of that krazy Jerrymanding.

I suggest a couple of generations to digest these changes before trying anything fancy.

Voting is fine the way it is. But if we are going to change it, I'd prefer Heinlein's solution: You go into the voting booth, and then have to answer some basic citizenship literacy questions. Say, locate North Korea on a map, state the name of the current Secretary of State, state how many senators there are, etc. Get them right, and you get to vote. Get it wrong, and a horn blares, a red light blinks over the voting booth, and you have to slink away in shame.

Then there's the 'improvement of the species' version - get the basic questions wrong and the booth opens again... empty.

...And why do I have the feeling that if people grew more liberal with age, the good Professor would have found a justification for the exact opposite formula?

I favor age-weighted the opposite direction.

As I grow older (I'm now too old for the Jaycees, still too young to retire), I realize how important experience is. Ballast and perspective are underrated.

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