My Call to End the Voting Age

“No one is born a good citizen; no nation is born a democracy. Rather, both are processes that continue to evolve over a lifetime. Young people must be included from birth. A society that cuts off from its youth severs its lifeline.” Kofi Annan

My Belief

Everyone has the human right to democratic processes regardless of age. Voting is one democratic process that shouldn’t be dependent on a person’s age. Age-based voting is an arbitrary barrier that disenfranchises a large minority of people in order to promote the power of a majority. It is meant to keep children and youth in check, and today we can see it failing.

For almost the entirety of the existence of the United States of America and most Western nations, there were ways to be disqualify minorities from voting. Slowly, those barriers are failing. Birthright, race, color, or previous condition of servitude, gender, and taxes are no longer legal barriers to voting. Real barriers still affect people because of those realities, but legally they’re not supposed to keep the vote from citizens.

Except for age.

Age Discrimination in Voting

Everyone who wants to vote should be allowed to do so. There’s no such thing as “knowing enough” about politics, democracy, elections, or the process. Simply speaking, voting is simply the act of choosing for someone who represents personal interests best in the public sphere. In a more complicated way, it is the acknowledgment that we’re responsible for the society we live in.

Is there an appropriate role for the consideration of mental competency in voting? Sure, for people who the court has declared mentally incompetent. But in an age when courts are continuously hammering young offenders with adult sentencing, age is not a worthy barrier to competency. Instead, is an arbitrary measure whose role in society is rapidly diminishing because of technology and social change.

Not Waiting to Engage

Luckily, children and youth today aren’t waiting for the right to vote in order to exercise their democratic responsibilities. People under 18 report paying 2% of all employment taxes in the US, paying record amounts of taxes on their jobs, despite higher youth unemployment rates than ever. Youth volunteering to benefit the public good continues to happen in record numbers. Young people who can vote are voting in record numbers.

There is an international effort to promote youth suffrage, and although it isn’t coalesced into a movement, its existent. The Freechild Project is a proud supporter and I am an adult ally to these efforts. I hope you join me in supporting the radical notion that ALL young people are humans, that all humans have rights, and that democracy is a human right. All children and youth should be given the vote, now.

2 responses to “My Call to End the Voting Age”

  1. What age do you think should be the minimum age to vote ? Having no minimum voting age would be inappropriate and absurd. Very young children lack the the appropriate amount of sound judgement to be enfranchised. Please e-mail me back at your earliest chance. Thank you.


    1. Yes, as this post states, I do believe in eliminating the voting age entirely. However, I do not need to argue this point; instead, I’ll refer you to others who’ve written about the need for this eloquently and powerfully:

      * Kevin Wordelman on
      * Katrina Moncure in “Who Gets to Vote?”
      * Duncan Lindsey in “Why Children Should Have a Vote”

      Here is a great collection of resources on the topic. Finally, for an essential dramatic argument for eliminating the voting age, watch this.


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