Is it time for 16-year-olds to get the vote?

Over the years, Minneapolis Rep. Phyllis  Kahn has elicited a few guffaws with her occasional bill to lower the voting age in Minnesota to 16.

She figures they can fire guns. They can drive cars. Why not vote?

It’s crazy talk, her colleagues say, which is why the bill has been buried time and time again.

Who doesn’t think so? Scotland.

They’re casting votes today as Scotland decides whether to remain in the U.K. or become an independent nation. It’s rather an important question which has significant impact on future generations.

“Our influence is more important than the older generation because we’re going to be living here longer,” says one young voter.

Suddenly, we realized in NPR reporter Ari Shapiro’s fine piece on All Things Considered last evening, it doesn’t seem like a crazy idea.

  1. Listen For Scotland’s 16-Year-Olds, The First Vote Will Be On Independence

    September 17, 2014

Scotland made an exception for this election only, but, as Shapiro noted, a lot of people in Scotland apparently believe it’s only a matter of time before 16-year-olds can vote in every election.

Is there a downside here? Maybe. But could 16 year olds really be any more uninformed than some of the people allowed to vote now?

  • jon

    If the future really impacts the young more than the old, lets weight the vote!
    If you are 16-25 your vote counts for 4, 25-35 get 3 votes a piece, 35-45 get 2, 45-55 get 1, and any one over 55 gets half a vote.

    Take that AARP!

    • L. Foonimin

      that would not be a bad idea if what we actually vote on would be about the future e.g. climate change … but alas we are only given carefully prescribed choices about the next election cycle.

  • How about lowering the drinking age back to 18 and legalize pot in all 50 states?

    • Dave

      Drunk driving injuries and fatalities fell when the age was raised to 21.

      • Go for 30.

        • …or totally outlawing alcohol. Won’t that lower the drunk driving and binge drinking numbers to zero?

      • Jack Ungerleider

        According to stories that I believe were published on this blog so did the incidents of binge drinking. We are admonished by companies that sell intoxicating beverages to “Enjoy Responsibly” but we never get told what that is.

      • BJ


  • Gary F

    And Scotland thinks its going to nationalize British Petroleum and use the profits to create even a bigger Marxist utopia.

    I’m glad I switched to Bourbon.

    • Robert Moffitt

      They own the oil that’s in the ground, but do not own the British pound. They do not like atomic sub. Ah, says NATO, there’s the rub!

      • Gary F

        yes, they currency thing will kill them too. So much for their Marxist Utopia.

        Then allow 16 years olds to vote!

        Then England should tell them “No backs”.

  • Paul Weimer

    Expanding the electorate? There are many in this country who covertly or openly think that the electorate is too large already.

    This would never pass.

  • Robert Moffitt

    The men wear skirts, they eat oatmeal boiled in a sheep’s stomach, play an instrument nobody can stand to listen to and we are supposed to look to THEM for advice on how to run a democracy?
    Okay with me.

    • Golf. You didn’t mention golf.

      • Gary F

        Golf? They have no trees on their courses and don’t water the grass and have meteor pits for sand traps.

        I don’t call that golf.

        (Willie from the Simpsons is in my cartoon bubble right now).

  • Robert Moffitt

    But seriously, isn’t it refreshing to see a big issue like this decided with votes, and not with guns and bombs? Whatever the people of Scotland decide today, democracy wins.

    • jon

      That’s only because totalitarianism and shiite law weren’t put on the ballot by the secret societies that run the democracies…

  • Jack

    Giving 16 year-olds the option to vote empowers them in shaping their future, it gives them hope, much like Karl Marx’s intention. Marx’s idea was empowering the people to not accept their status in life as ‘God’s Will’ due to original sin as the church embedded into their subconscious through social stratification; this is your plight in life. Marx wanted the people to come together and create a revolution against the ongoing unjust system. Giving the power to vote gives a teen the hope that they can change their future and they do not have to rely on those who have really botched up the entire planet as of recent.

  • Rich in Duluth

    I would just like to see some consistency. If you can go to war, drive a car, or hold a job, then you should be able to drink, sign a contract, and vote. If we think that age is 16, 18, or 21, so be it, but be consistent.

  • Jim123

    Several years ago I had a beer fueled conversation about this topic with a friend of a friend who was in law school, and one of his primary interests was lowering the voting age. I held a position that, apparently, aligned with most of the Rep. Khan’s colleagues. He did have a interesting, and somewhat persuasive, argument that there are classes of people that are alienated and excluded from large portions of society by not being able to vote. Women were largely deemed as mothers and homemakers until the suffrage movement, and African American’s are still trying to recover from the many, many years of alienation by government. Change did not really begin until they were able to vote and politician’s needed to be accountable (and attract their vote). He used the same argument for allowing kids to vote – until they gained the power of the ballot box, their interests would always be given less attention than others. While this hasn’t changed my opinion completely, it has adjusted my thinking both towards the voting issue and alienated/less powerful constituencies in general.

  • Tane S. Danger

    Get people hooked on voting young and it’ll become a lifelong habit, like smoking.