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Should the voting age be raised?

  1. Yes

    10 vote(s)
    30.3%
  2. No

    21 vote(s)
    63.6%
  3. Unsure

    2 vote(s)
    6.1%
  1. Nov 4, 2005 #1

    Moonbear

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    In the quest for something "different" on this forum, I'm posting a poll to ask whether the current voting age of 18 in the U.S. should be raised.

    The reason I ask is that I'm wondering if the majority of 18 year-olds in our current society (not the way the society was 20 or 50 or 100 years ago) are sufficiently mature and independent to make such an important decision as who should be elected to government office.

    I think it's a fairly generally known fact that young children generally reflect their parents' political views (if it isn't, then this can be a debate point). At some point as adults, we develop our own independence and may no longer share political views with our parents (many of course do share those views, but they arrive at those views independently; in other words, not just because it's what their parents told them to believe). What I'm unsure of is when during the developmental continuum from adolescence to adulthood do people stop taking their parents' view of the world and politics for granted and make independent political decisions?

    Given that in other areas of life, indicators of independence seem to appear at a later age than historically (for example, adult children living at home with their parents over the age of 18, still dependent on their parents for financial support, or college students still having their parents come resolve their problems rather than doing it themselves), are 18 year-olds sufficiently independent to perform a function as important as voting, or are they only replicating their parents' votes? (You may disagree with the premise of this statement as well.)

    You'll notice, I'm not working from hard data here, but my personal impression of changes in society and maturity of 18 year-olds. Hence, the poll and opportunity to discuss and present both supporting and opposing views.

    Above, I probably should have defined majority...simple majority, 2/3 majority, overwhelming majority? I've chosen not to. If the difference would sway your opinion from yes to no, or vice versa, then choose unsure and explain.

    Now that I've set up the general question, I'd like to put one restriction on the discussion. Discuss the merits of raising the voting age or keeping the status quo only as they apply to the maturity, independence, education, etc., of people in that age grouping, and not with regard to whether they are permitted or required to do other things at that age. For example, "If they can be sent to war at that age, they should vote," would not be a valid argument in this debate: make the assumption that whatever we set the voting age at, all related responsibilities that require that level of maturity would also be subject to revision as well.

    I'll urge those who are around the age of 18 or nearing it to please not simply react to having to wait longer to vote. I tend to think the teens participating on this forum are more mature than the general population, so take into consideration your peers, classmates, etc., and think about whether enough of them have the maturity to make their own informed decisions when it comes to voting to merit keeping the age at 18. Don't worry, I'm not running off to lobby Congress to pass a new law, just thought it would make for an interesting non-partisan discussion.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 4, 2005 #2
    I voted no.

    I think there should be a minimum intelligence requirement though.
    How about a test on current affairs and the US Constitution.
     
  4. Nov 4, 2005 #3
    .... lol

    In Canada we're currently debating a bill to lower the voting age to 16.
     
  5. Nov 4, 2005 #4

    Moonbear

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    That was a quick reply!

    Such tests have been deemed unconstitutional. Look up Jim Crow laws.
     
  6. Nov 4, 2005 #5

    Moonbear

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    Really? Based on what reasoning? It might be helpful to this debate to know why people are considering lowering the voting age in Canada, and whether similar arguments would make sense in the US. (And since you always find a way to be troublesome with my poll choices, even when they seem entirely straightforward on a simple question, if you think the voting age should be lowered, that would be a "no" vote...it shouldn't be raised. :tongue:)
     
  7. Nov 4, 2005 #6
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2005
  8. Nov 4, 2005 #7
    When are "kids" mature? Meaning what age would we raise it to, and why that age?


    For adult males living at home (ages 18-24) the percentage has gone from 54% (1970) to 55% (2002). The same study for females found 41% (1970) to 46% (2002) ( http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0193723.html )
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2005
  9. Nov 4, 2005 #8
  10. Nov 4, 2005 #9

    Moonbear

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    I wish they had broken the data down into smaller age groupings.

    I think I'd want to see some real poll data on how "kids" vote relative to their parents. You'll expect some degree of agreement, simply because people do incorporate what they've learned from their parents into their own views too, but there should come a point where the percentage of those voting differently from their parents would increase to indicate they are making independent decisions. I guess one could compare the data to an older population, say 30 year-olds, to see when the percentages of those voting differently from their parents began to reflect adult, independent voting patterns (you could also use poll data of "if you were old enough, who would you vote for" among various ages of children to see when the change starts to happen).

    Since I didn't state it outright before, I voted unsure in the poll. I could be underestimating the maturity of 18 year-olds. Alternatively, if we raised the age, would that also be sending the message that you don't have to grow up and pay attention to the world around you quite yet, and just shift the problem to a later age group?
     
  11. Nov 4, 2005 #10
    If they are old enough to go to war they are old enough to have a voice in the decision.
     
  12. Nov 4, 2005 #11

    Evo

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    That was the argument for lowering the voting age to 18. I think 18 is too young to go to war.

    Young kids rarely take the time to understand what is really going on (the highly intelligent and knowledgeable youth at PF not included).

    During the last election the local radio station was driving around giving out concert tickets to kids if they would register to vote and of course the DJ's were on air telling them who to vote for. Not that older people aren't any less likely to be herded like sheep to the polls by what ever organization they belong to. Unions tell their members who to vote for.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2005
  13. Nov 4, 2005 #12
    I think 118 is to young to go to war.

    Our whole system of sufferage, in the words of Heinlen is like "adding zeros."
     
  14. Nov 4, 2005 #13

    Moonbear

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    I guess you missed this paragraph in the OP:
    :biggrin:
     
  15. Nov 4, 2005 #14

    BobG

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    I have to admit my 'no' was influenced by how things were when I was in high school. By senior year, I think most were pretty aware of what was going on politically on a national level - considering that was the year Nixon resigned because of Watergate, that might not have been the typical level of political awareness for high school students. Still, seniors taking Problems of Democracy (not a required course) had to have an awareness of current events to pass the course - in fact, I was a little miffed that Time magazine articles were used for homework assignments, since our family subscribed to Newsweek. On a local level, I knew the candidates well enough to have an opinion of them, but local tax initiatives and other ballot issues took me by surprise.

    Among my kids, two voted for the opposite presidential candidate and one voted the same as I did. Since Kerry was the first Democratic Presidential candidate I voted for, it's hard to say whether that supports or weakens your position. Of the two living at home (or at least within a mile of home), one knew more than just the Presidential candidate, while the one clueless about any of the candidates other than the Presidential election understood the State amendment about the electoral votes (that's typical - in 2000, she was clueless about what each candidate stood for, but was very interested in the post-election process, itself). Neither really paid much attention to the local ballot initiatives.

    Looking at people overall, I think interest in the topic has more to do with the variations in political awareness than maturity. There's a pretty large segment of the population whose only source political knowledge are 30 second campaign ads and a lot of those folks should be pretty mature.
     
  16. Nov 4, 2005 #15
    No way, if anything it should be lowered to 16. 16 year olds (at least in Britain) have the right to consexual sex, abortions, marriage, the ability to serve in the armed forces, smoke, pay income tax and be tried as an adult in a court of law. With adult responsibilities comes adult priviledges - most important of which is having a say in how the political figures in our society shape our nation's future.
     
  17. Nov 4, 2005 #16

    Moonbear

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    And do you think they are already mature enough to handle those responsibilities? Again, I want to see arguments based on whether they are actually able to handle such responsibility by 18, not whether other laws expect them to do so.
     
  18. Nov 4, 2005 #17
    Of course, otherwise society wouldn't expect them to do so.

    Let's be completely honest, you either define 16 year olds as adults or children (not in a patronising sense mind) - if the former then they should have voting rights and if the latter they should have none of the rights and responsibilities I mentioned in my previous post. I'm sure there are plenty of young budding entrapreneurs or people in full-time employment who would love to not pay any income tax on their earnings.
     
  19. Nov 4, 2005 #18

    Moonbear

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    In the US, we have different ages for different responsibilities, so it seems society hasn't come to quite the same consensus here. Here, you can drive at 17, vote, serve in the military, gamble, and smoke at 18, and consume alcohol at 21. Does this mean 16 year-olds in the US are less mature or responsible than in GB? Maybe it does...different societies and cultures exert different pressures on when people are expected to be responsible adults, and I suppose they could live up or down to that. Actually, that was my motivation for asking, because I think our culture may have changed enough that the age at which people are acting with sufficient maturity to take on such responsibilities is a bit older than 18 now, whereas I think there was a time when 16 year olds would have easily been mature enough to handle such responsibility...they started practicing that responsibility much earlier.
     
  20. Nov 4, 2005 #19
    I admit I was answering the title and had not read the OP or the thread when I posted.

    No, I do not think we should raise the age of suffrage. I think suffrage should be earned. Age does not equal maturity, wisdom, knowledge, or judgement.
     
  21. Nov 4, 2005 #20

    Gokul43201

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    I think the voters should write down the name of the candidate/issue they are voting for (rather than punch or select from a list). Spelling errors and illegible handwriting serve as automatic disqualifiers ! :tongue2:
     
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