Why can’t a 16 year old vote?

I think it’s a reasonable question. John Quiggin in this Crooked Timber piece thinks so too.

That’s why we should act consistently with the core democratic principle that those affected by a decision should have a say in making it, unless they are absolutely disqualified in some way. In my view, that makes an open-and-shut case for lowering the voting age to 16.

Quiggin suggests go farther than that but what I like about 16 is that it’s almost impossible to make a good case against it. You wouldn’t be just giving parents an extra vote the way you might at a younger age. Many 16 year olds are already working. They are thinking about the future. And frankly, they know as much as the average American adult about the issues of the day (which is often not enough, but if you’re going to decide who can vote based on their level of knowledge, most of the adult public is out of luck).

Of course, I have a theory about where lowering the voting age ends.


Too obscure? That’s a scene from the movie Logan’s Run, where everybody has to die when they’re 30 to get out of the way before they become a drain on resources. It’s a schlocky movie based on a less schlocky novel (in which 21 was the age you died!) but the basic concept was that at some point, the fast-growing global population of young people got sick of the old people holding back change and hogging all the money and power, so….

Seems like that would be an easier story to imagine today, as we (I’m talking to us, the Boomers and Gen X crowd) are left explaining how our generations collectively broke the planet, plus also created the gig economy. Sorry kids!

So yes, let the 16 year olds vote. We’ve had our chance. We haven’t done well with it.

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