Is it Time to Raise the Voting Age? (Guest Post)

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The short answer to my question is, “No”. So why the title of this post? A while back I read a business article about some company president (I can’t remember the source now) who liked to stoke ideas in meetings by throwing out bad ideas to start a discussion and see what good ideas could come from those meetings. This is what I’m trying here. So without further adieu…

In 1971 the 26th Amendment to the Constitution lowered the voting age to 18. This was done mainly in response to young people being subject to the draft – it’s hard to argue that someone being conscripted into potentially dying for their country shouldn’t be allowed to vote. If the state was going to give you the responsibilities of being an adult it certainly should include the rights and privileges as well. The draft is long gone, but the voting age stayed at 18. We never looked at the possibility of raising the voting age, but is it time to?

Obamacare has now raised the age of “Childhood” to 26, in that even at 26 years old insurance companies are now required to cover said child under their parents’ insurance. This raises the question, if you’re still too much of a child to handle the responsibilities of adulthood why should you have the rights of an adult? If you’ve never been an independent adult how can you be expected to appreciate the consequences of your vote? Why should someone who might  never have been out in the real world be allowed to vote themselves candy from the government when they can’t have a real appreciation of the concept that things cost money? Or to make this simpler, we could set the threshold that as long as another individual can claim you as a dependent on their tax returns you are not granted the right to vote.

I’m a child of privilege who has never lived in the real world… And I vote!
Image appears courtesy of International Liberty

Stories along the lines of how young people aren’t growing up generally include some anecdote or points out that up until a few decades ago it was far more common to be married with children and somewhere near the are of home ownership at this age. I can only partially talk on this one – at the age of 26 I was working my tail off and looking at getting an MBA only after I had some real world experience under my belt. But on the flip side I didn’t marry Sister Babe until I was 41, which led to Baby Bob’s arrival last year. I would attribute my late start to a family not so much as a fear of growing up, but more to a dating style that I describe as “Some play hard to get. I play hard to want.”

But back on topic, from there we can take this idea to some very bad extensions – do we restrict the right to vote only to those who pay federal taxes? What about if you’re on welfare, unemployment, or other social assistance? The left could take this to the extension that since we can’t restrict employees of corporations’ right to vote would this justify restricting their free speech, a la Citizens United? Of course, these are all worse ideas than my initial bad idea, but at least my initial Very Bad Idea has the weight of the fact that young people have never had any kind of skin in the game. Unless you count all of the debt we’re piling on them, but they tend to vote leftist anyway and government debt isn’t a problem unless it’s under a Republican administration. Even though tying the right to vote to not being treated as a dependent prevents young people who have struck out on their own from being affected, it still doesn’t make my idea a good one.

In the words of the great poet Joseph Belladonna, “Independence means owning your decisions.

What does everybody think? I’d love to hear everyone else’s bad ideas, or better still, good ideas.

Cross posted from Brother Bob’s Blog

Blogging by the credo of "Making the world a more offensive place, one blog post at a time", Brother Bob started writing posts around the beginning of the Obama presidency over at Brother Bob's Blog. A born-again Existentialist and self-professed libertarian with conservative tendencies, he has ironically chosen to live in the Washington, DC area - deep behind enemy lines. He has always loved history, and spent eight years volunteering as a tour guide on weekends, giving over 200 tours to roughly 2,500 mostly foreign guests. His tours were highlighted by stories generally not found in the history books or most other tours, such as the importance of the Battle if Antietam, the origins or Arlington Cemetery, and dispelling the myths of FDR's New Deal. Although his favorite subject to blog about is Economics, as seen in his Economics for Politicians series, his posts try to address angles that other conservative writers and the mainstream media (naturally!) miss. "There's no point in putting up a post on a subject that someone smarter than me has already written". He believes in the "Happy Warrior" approach, and tries to inject humor in his posts, sometimes successfully. Two such examples are his posts comparing the modern left to the horrible Star Wars prequels, and analyzing the laments of a DC woman in search of a feminist boyfriend. Brother Bob lives with his very patient wife known as Sister Babe, and their fantastic son. Little Bob. Little Bob is also the reason that being a tour guide came to an end, as spending Saturdays raising a son takes priority over giving lectures to foreign visitors on the folly of Keynesian economics. BB is also grateful for the opportunity to take his place among the outstanding writers at Flopping Aces, appreciates every person who takes the time to read his posts, and especially those who join him in the conversation in the comments.

17 Responses to “Is it Time to Raise the Voting Age? (Guest Post)”

  1. 1

    Nanny G

    Alexander Fraser Tytler may not have originated the idea but he said it well.

    “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the people discover they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that democracy always collapses over a loose fiscal policy–to be followed by a dictatorship.”

    We are at that point.
    In fact, I would say that Democrats do not have constituents in the classic sense of the word.
    They really have interest groups.
    There are no ideals nor even a real ideology from them, except to separate some people from their wealth so as to give a portion (minus the gov’t employees huge piece of the action) to those interest group members.
    Actually, gov’t employees are one of the Democrat’s many interest groups.
    To bring it back to Tytler:
    Democrats will have their own civil war when their interest groups run out of other people to steal from and have to start stealing from one another.

  2. 3


    Women can vote at age 25 with a full cerebral cortex. Men do not get a full cerebral cortex until 30 years, on average. Only full grown adults should be able to vote, after showing their high school diploma (or equivalent).

  3. 4


    I was sent to war in Vietnam in January 1970, not yet old enough ever to have voted either for or against the elected officials who sent me. I recall that this struck me as an injustice.

  4. 5

    Ronald J. Ward

    @Dynan: Just wondering, should the previously voting registered uneducated be grandfathered in or should it just come about as a swoop of the pen law for everyone?

  5. 6


    ” since we can’t restrict employees of corporations’ right to vote would this justify restricting their free speech, a la Citizens United?”
    There is no Constitutional right to vote in federal elections. Thus, no resulting argument in favor of restricting rights.
    Of course, no one (should be) allowed to use their rights in a way that endangers the lives or safety of others… Should people be allowed to vote in a way that endangers the lives or safety of others? Or their freedoms? Or their rights? It happens every day.
    At a minimum, those who vote, as well as those who run for election, should bear the burden of proving that they meet the lawful requirements for doing so.
    After all, you have to prove legality in order to hold a job, cash a check, or purchase many things… is the vote any less important?
    In my not-so-humble opinion, Robert A. Heinlein had the best solution (Starship Troopers): Only those who had worked for the privilege should be allowed to vote.
    Much social wisdom in that book.
    A vote is something that should be earned with enough effort to be valued, not just given to anyone who walks, rolls, or is carried through the door.

  6. 7

    Brother Bob


    @Greg: Probably the first time I’ve ever agreed with you 100%

    @Petercat: Excellent! I was tempted to quote Starship Troopers but wanted to keep the post short. Thanks for throwing that in!

  7. 8


    How about we raise the voting age back to 21 except for all active duty (and activated reserve) military who will be allowed to vote whatever their age? This is a compromise between our current system, and the voting system suggested in the film Star Troopers which only gave voting privileges to citizens who had served in the military.

  8. 10

    Rob in Katy

    The Founders had an idea, if you don’t own property then you don’t vote. No skin in the game then you don’t vote. The Entitlement / Benefit question has been so muddled, I don’t know that you can make a clean cut there. It would be nice if you could say if you pay more in taxes then you receive, but then you get back to the Benefits vs. Entitlements and do Benefits count against taxes. I would be very happy if we could just limit voting to LIVE CITIZENS 🙂 My waffling aside, I think if you are getting entitlements (minus and military, police, fire, …) then you don’t vote as politicians have become to adept at buying votes with our money. Tough question, I hate you 🙂

  9. 11


    @Rob in Katy:

    Don’t you think that serving in the military should count as having had “skin in the game?”

    One of the problems with only granting voting rights to land holders, is that the wealthy and influential have always had an unfair advantage. During the colonial times was that in many colonies, the crown owned the land via regal fiat, while granting some lands in the new world to influential families, land. Much of this “claimed” land were not yet settled, but the royalty arbitrarily laid claim to vast tracts of open and unexplored land. Let us also not forget that in the founder’s day it was much easier to acquire land if you were willing to search and find a place to stake a claim as homestead, clear the land and build the home yourself, and work the land to become self sufficient. Few Americans today could pass that test.

    As noted, while European settlers brought their ideas about property to America, they also encountered something new here: vast tracts of fertile land. To acquire a parcel, one needed only to head west past the settled edge, find a desirable spot, possibly contract with a local tribe, and then build a farm. Instead of Europe’s scarcity, America offered abundance. In 1800 an English laborer had to spend a third of his income to rent ten acres, while an American farm laborer could rent the same amount with only 1 percent of his income.

  10. 12

    Rob in Katy

    @Ditto: did you skip this part of what I said, ” I think if you are getting entitlements (minus and military, police, fire, …) ” Which includes all the other services that I don’t know off the top of my head. Basically, if you put your ass on the line, you get to always vote. I thought that was clear in my statement?

    As to the other points, like I said, I don’t have a good answer. Allowing the vast purchasable voter class to be bought is not an option for a country to survive. What I find very interesting is that most immigrants would qualify, they come here, start a business and are off assistance in 5 years. If you cannot do that, then you shouldn’t vote. Would you be happy with “gainfully employed” or simply, “not on the dole?”

    You don’t think owning a home is property? Maybe a condo?

  11. 13


    Age is not really the issue. Personal responsibility and mental competence should be the issue. I am sure I will get all kinds of flame for writing this, but frankly if one is unable to support oneself without government subsidies (welfare, SNAP, section 8 housing, Medicaid) then one is essentially a ward of the state and should not be allowed to vote. If one makes poor decisions in life or is not competent to support oneself and one’s family without needing somebody else to be taxed to pay for your support, then you are not responsible enough to vote. Your natural inclination would be to continue voting for scumbags willing to give out largesse from the public treasury to buy your vote.

    If a person wants to be financially supported like a child, then one should not expect to have the privileges of an adult.

  12. 14



    Serving in the military is not a clear cut dividing line, as there are lower enlisted who are on foodstamps and welfare. Owning land isn’t really viable either, considering how many people who are financially responsible enough not to require welfare handouts rent rather than own.

    Allowing people who take welfare, SNAP, section 8 housing or Medicaid (not medicare and not people receiving their EARNED social security benefits) to vote is every bit as stupid as allowing members of congress to vote themselves pay raises. Allowing people living off taxpayer-provided welfare money to vote is analogous to you being able to dictate to your boss what you will be paid. This is exactly what the leftists designed with the socialist programs they have enchained us with (progressive income tax, social security, welfare, foodstamps, section 8 housing, etc), because they are absolutely buying the votes of the lazy, the uneducated and those who covet what other people have earned. The answer when their socialist schemes always run out of money is to demand an increase of the tax burden while lambasting anyone who opposes their Marxist ideology as being greedy and uncaring of the poor.

    The fix would be simple, but painful. You lose the privilege of voting if you have to go onto any form of government assistance. Once you have been off government assistance for an entire year, you reacquire the privilege of the vote. Do away with the class warfare insanity of the progressive income tax, and go to a straight sales tax, which cannot be increased except by a 2/3rds approval of the voters in a presidential election year, unless we were in an officially declared war. Any increase in the sales tax for wartime efforts would be automatically ended 60 days after the official end of the war. This would ensure that every time one purchases something, the amount of tax taken by the government was a constant reminder of how much money the government was spending. It would make people think a little more about who to vote for when government boondoggles are wasting tens to hundreds of billions.

    Under the current state of poor education and the mindset of generational welfare entitlements, alas it is more likely that Obama would be elected to a third term to President before such a common sense change to our voting and tax systems would occur.

  13. 15

    Rob in Katy

    @Pete, good points. I think another would be to eliminate all payroll deductions as it hides how much we are actually paying. To be forced to write a check every year would put all the Taxes in stark perspective to our income. But then again, income taxes only hurt those trying to move up. It is a tax designed to keep the little man down and feed the coffers of those that wish to spend other peoples money.

  14. 16


    @Rob in Katy:

    Absolutely true. The idea of the income tax was specifically to divorce people from awareness of how much the government was spending – and the leftists who got it passed propagandized that only the “rich” would have to pay it. There are still Keynesian jerks out there who argue that the country was better off when the top tax rates were 90%.

  15. 17



    Serving in the military is not a clear cut dividing line, as there are lower enlisted who are on foodstamps and welfare.

    That reflects more on the shameful treatment of military enlisted, rather than on the personnel themselves. Those military members with children should not have to worry about basic sustenance for their families.

    @Rob in Katy:

    The Founders had an idea, if you don’t own property then you don’t vote. No skin in the game then you don’t vote.

    What do you consider as having “skin in the game here?” that they pay property taxes? In the case of landlords, they only pay taxes on personal property that they don’t lease. It is the renters who pay the property taxes, which are included in rental costs. As for owning real estate, there are some rare twits who leave their estates to their pets. Are we to let these pampered cats and dogs vote? What about those wealthy few such as the idle rich who inherit expansive estates, or others who evade taxes due to offshore investments or legal loopholes? Shouldn’t they be considered as not having “skin in the game?”

    Rather than using various c0mplex politically or monetary based solutions for deciding who may vote, why not instead rely on: Requiring proof of citizenship, A photo ID, and The passing of a periodic American civics exam (to determine if the person is mentally capable of such an important civic duty)?

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