TED Conversations

Michelle Rosenthal

social worker, Dr Susan Smith McKinney Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

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Should the minimum age a person could vote be lowered or raised and if so to what age?

Should people be allowed to vote under the age of 18 or should the age be raised back to 21?

There are many well informed young people that may know much more about politics than some of the adults who are allowed to vote and who may not know much about the issues.

Could individuals aged 17 or 16 be entrusted to vote? what about 15, 14 or 13? Their lives will greatly be impacted about decisions our politicians make especially about war as they may be called upon to fight in a war initiated by someone that they had no say in if that person should be granted that power or not. There are many youngsters that may be given a voice in our government. They do have something to say and we all should listen. They may steer us away from war into peace, away from individual profit motive and into open sourcing etc.

Ted is encouraging Youth Day and our youth are our future lets embrace them.

Many individuals under 18 are brilliant, talented, scientists, excellent parents and may contribute to our society if we let them.

What do you think, should we let them in?

Topics: voting rights

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  • Nov 14 2011: I think age is only one factor in considering if a person is eligible to vote. If we limit voting to property owners we can argue that voting is limited to those who are vested. This is not at all true since government has far reaching powers in modern times. Limiting by age is practical as we want elections to be decided by responsible persons who understand the impact of voting decisions.

    It is equally reasonable to estimate the total number of irresponsible people over the age of 17 is equal to the number of people 17 and under. How is age really limiting anything related to responsibility?

    I think it would be better to use the the educational system to our advantage in training voter responsibility rather than starting voting eligibility at the same time education becomes optional. How about a system where voters can register as early as 14 but most vote provisionally in 4 election cycles before there votes start to count? This trains 14-17 year olds, builds discipline in voting consistency, exposes the voter to all levels of elections, and is long enough for the voters to see the impact of the decisions they are making before they actually count. Vote could still count after the person turns 18. This could even be expanded so that all voters of any age must have participated in 4 election cycles prior to having votes count. This would even prevent election outcomes being swayed based on mobilizing groups along gender and income lines for the purpose of manipulating elections with votes from normally non-participating voters.

    Just a thought.
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      Nov 17 2011: Hey this is a great idea! As much as I love discussing ideas, proposing solutions is so refreshing.
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      Nov 20 2011: Michael, I disagree though I see your point. I do not think we should make more barriers to voting. I think it should be easier. I believe same day voter registration should be possible at the polls. People may get the urge to vote that day when an important election is occurring but if they did not preregister often 20 days in advance they may not be able to vote and if they missed a few election cycles they have to re-register. I think that all should be changed.

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