19 votes

Should the Voting Age Be Lowered to 16?

79 comments

  1. [25]
    Algernon_Asimov
    (edited )
    Link
    The writers make many good points, and I don't disagree with the idea of lowering the voting age. However... I started voting as soon as I was able. The culture here in Australia is slightly...

    The writers make many good points, and I don't disagree with the idea of lowering the voting age.

    However...

    I started voting as soon as I was able. The culture here in Australia is slightly different to the USA: with compulsory voting, voting is a ritual which just about everyone is involved in. (Just look up "democracy sausage" to see how embedded voting is in our culture!) As kids, we were dragged along when our parents went to vote, so we saw the process in action. So, when I turned 18, I registered, as was my civic duty and my legal requirement, and started voting soon thereafter.

    But I voted like my parents. We didn't discuss politics a lot at home, but whenever the subject came up, my parents were open about who they voted for. So, when I started voting, I voted for the same party. Because my parents voted for them, and they were intelligent people, so they must be voting for the best party.

    As the years and elections went by, my vote started drifting. By the time I was 30, I was voting diametrically opposite to my parents. Nothing had changed: the parties were the same parties, and I was the same person. What happened was that I realised that my beliefs didn't line up with the party I was voting for. So I changed. And changed again. And changed again. Until I felt like I was voting for the right party for me.

    And this is the risk in lowering the voting age: that teenage voters are likely to take their voting cues from their parents, and vote in the same way as their parents. Sure, some teenage voters are more politically aware than I was, and will make their own decision. But other teenage voters are just going to vote the same as their parents.

    Lowering the voting age isn't enough. We need to also educate teenagers about how to choose who to vote for, so they can make their own decisions.

    EDIT: Of course, it couldn't hurt to teach some adults how to make well-informed decisions about voting... but teenagers become adults in the end.

    28 votes
    1. [14]
      jgb
      Link Parent
      I wouldn't support giving 16 year olds the vote. I should state from the outset that as a matter of principle I don't believe someone who does not feel the full responsibilities of adulthood...

      I wouldn't support giving 16 year olds the vote. I should state from the outset that as a matter of principle I don't believe someone who does not feel the full responsibilities of adulthood should enjoy the right to make decisions about the governance of the nation. Yet this viewpoint is also bolstered by my personal experiences, which are similar to yours. My political views today are not hugely different to those I held as a 16 year old, but my understanding of politics then was definitely not sufficient to translate my views into a rational and effective vote. I can't imagine that many of my peers at that age would've been able to make reasonable decisions in the polling booth either, given that - at the risk of bordering on the pretentious - as a straight-A student who had already fostered an addiction to arguing on the internet and refreshing the BBC News, I was something of a 'best case scenario'. As a general rule, you shouldn't be voting without having had your opinions tested in the crucible of debate and remonstration, either at University or in the workplace or even on the internet, and most people haven't yet had that by the age of 16.

      14 votes
      1. [14]
        Comment deleted by author
        Link Parent
        1. [12]
          UniquelyGeneric
          Link Parent
          Not to speak for jgb, but when I was 16 I hadn’t even taken my high school U.S. History or Government courses. Without the context of how the government works and the history of decisions that...

          Not to speak for jgb, but when I was 16 I hadn’t even taken my high school U.S. History or Government courses. Without the context of how the government works and the history of decisions that were made which led us to the present day, I would be skeptical that someone could make a truly informed decision with their vote.

          Imagine a world where an impressionable young voter decides to support a candidate who creates immigration concentration camps, without knowing the history of Japanese internment camps or the Trail of Tears. It just seems irresponsible to allow someone who can’t serve in the military, never filed their own taxes, and never owned real estate to be deciding how those circumstances will effect other’s lives.

          6 votes
          1. [6]
            Diet_Coke
            Link Parent
            None of those conditions are age specific though, there are tons of extremely uninformed adults. I would encourage everyone here to volunteer for a campaign you like and do some door knocking. You...

            None of those conditions are age specific though, there are tons of extremely uninformed adults. I would encourage everyone here to volunteer for a campaign you like and do some door knocking. You will find out the average voter knows almost nothing and believes what the TV tells them.

            4 votes
            1. [5]
              UniquelyGeneric
              Link Parent
              They aren’t age specific, but a 16 year old has limited world experiences because of their age. Uninformed adults are unavoidable, but they have at least had more opportunity to become more...

              They aren’t age specific, but a 16 year old has limited world experiences because of their age. Uninformed adults are unavoidable, but they have at least had more opportunity to become more informed. A 16 year old hasn’t finished the minimum-required education in the country, and if you don’t think that’s relevant to being a conscientious voter, then perhaps we should be considering whether a kindergartener should be allowed to vote.

              the average voter knows almost nothing and believes what the TV tells them

              So because people are manipulated by media we should let those without fully developed brains be allowed to vote? Seems ripe for further voter manipulation. Adult brains don’t stop development until your mid-20s, why can’t we instead consider raising the voting age until people are equipped to make such important decisions?

              3 votes
              1. [4]
                Diet_Coke
                Link Parent
                By the age of 16, someone has had a chance to learn civics as well as state and national history. They probably remember more of it than an adult who's been out of school for 10 years. Our...

                By the age of 16, someone has had a chance to learn civics as well as state and national history. They probably remember more of it than an adult who's been out of school for 10 years. Our education system is set up to train people to work in factories, not to create good citizens or conscientious voters so it seems more or less unrelated that a 16 year old hasn't finished the required curriculum.

                So because people are manipulated by media we should let those without fully developed brains be allowed to vote?

                I mean, no, that's called a straw man argument. Age is absolutely not correlated with knowing anything or being informed, though.

                Adult brains don’t stop development until your mid-20s

                We don't take brain development into account for voting, which is why people with learning disabilities or traumatic brain injury can still vote.

                4 votes
                1. [3]
                  UniquelyGeneric
                  Link Parent
                  This argument falls apart by the mere fact that we have an education system designed to inform new humans of the things they don't know because they are too young. Regardless of whether or not you...

                  Age is absolutely not correlated with knowing anything or being informed, though.

                  This argument falls apart by the mere fact that we have an education system designed to inform new humans of the things they don't know because they are too young. Regardless of whether or not you believe in Tabula Rasa, everyone starts off with very little knowledge when they are born.

                  Our education system is set up to train people to work in factories, not to create good citizens or conscientious voters

                  This is patently false. Working in a factory does not require knowledge of "civics as well as state and national history", which apparently you think 16 year olds must be acquiring solely outside the educational system. If the education system was intended to create factory workers, we would all be in factories and have no need for learning math, science, literature, history, or government. Ipso facto, the US manufacturing jobs account for less than 10% of all jobs.


                  My point around kindergartners or 20-somethings is that the choice of 16 as an age appropriate to vote is mostly arbitrary. 18 has historical precedent, legal status, near-universal agreement across countries, and biological rationale (the body has typically stopped growing). 16 is the age to drive a car, and even that isn't consistent by state.

                  3 votes
                  1. [2]
                    Diet_Coke
                    Link Parent
                    No it doesn't? Are you capable of engaging in discussion without putting words in the other person's mouth post? Do some research. It's based on the Prussian system, and that's exactly what it's...

                    This argument falls apart by the mere fact that we have an education system designed to inform new humans of the things they don't know because they are too young

                    No it doesn't?

                    which apparently you think 16 year olds must be acquiring solely outside the educational system

                    Are you capable of engaging in discussion without putting words in the other person's mouth post?

                    If the education system was intended to create factory workers, we would all be in factories and have no need for learning math, science, literature, history, or government.

                    Do some research. It's based on the Prussian system, and that's exactly what it's for.

                    Ipso facto, the US manufacturing jobs account for less than 10% of all jobs

                    Non sequitur. The education system was not designed recently. It is outdated and insufficient for today's circumstances, but that's a whole other discussion.

                    16 is the age to drive a car, and even that isn't consistent by state.

                    16 is also the age you can consent to sexual activity in many states (even younger in some). In most states a 16 year old can get married, and even younger most of the time. The bottom line is that 18 is arbitrary, and because it's arbitrary, any other number is potentially just as valid.

                    1 vote
                    1. Deimos
                      Link Parent
                      This argument's completely devolved now, isn't going anywhere productive, and is unlikely to suddenly recover. Please drop it here (@UniquelyGeneric as well, please don't reply any more).

                      This argument's completely devolved now, isn't going anywhere productive, and is unlikely to suddenly recover. Please drop it here (@UniquelyGeneric as well, please don't reply any more).

                      1 vote
          2. Algernon_Asimov
            Link Parent
            The solution to that is to teach these courses to 14- and 15-year-olds, knowing that they will become voters on their 16th birthday. We already live in this world. We already have adults voting...

            Not to speak for jgb, but when I was 16 I hadn’t even taken my high school U.S. History or Government courses.

            The solution to that is to teach these courses to 14- and 15-year-olds, knowing that they will become voters on their 16th birthday.

            Imagine a world where an impressionable young voter decides to support a candidate who creates immigration concentration camps, without knowing the history of Japanese internment camps or the Trail of Tears.

            We already live in this world. We already have adults voting for these things, and with the same ignorance.

            3 votes
          3. [3]
            Elronnd
            Link Parent
            Meanwhile I had gleaned a fairly good understanding of civics and US history--including the unsavoury sections--by the time I was maybe 12. Mostly, this points to the problem that--beyond a very...

            when I was 16 I hadn’t even taken my high school U.S. History or Government courses. Without the context of how the government works and the history of decisions that were made which led us to the present day, I would be skeptical that someone could make a truly informed decision with their vote.

            Meanwhile I had gleaned a fairly good understanding of civics and US history--including the unsavoury sections--by the time I was maybe 12. Mostly, this points to the problem that--beyond a very rough approximation--age is not a good indicator of knowledge, maturity, or expertise. It's unclear that we have one better; or, at least, that we have one less biased. I don't think that it matters so much what the voting age is, so long as it's constant, and somewhere around 20.

            2 votes
            1. [2]
              papasquat
              Link Parent
              I don't know how you could possibly argue that. If you asked the average 12 year old to explain the general platforms of the Republican and Democratic parties, they would do a lot worse than the...

              age is not a good indicator of knowledge, maturity, or expertise

              I don't know how you could possibly argue that. If you asked the average 12 year old to explain the general platforms of the Republican and Democratic parties, they would do a lot worse than the average 20 year old.

              1 vote
              1. Elronnd
                Link Parent
                A granularity of 8 years is pretty rough.

                beyond a very rough approximation--age is not a good indicator of ...

                A granularity of 8 years is pretty rough.

                2 votes
          4. Eva
            Link Parent
            When I was 16 I was living on my own; I'm a bit sceptical of anyone who couldn't reasonably vote at even, say, 14, being able to vote at 18.

            When I was 16 I was living on my own; I'm a bit sceptical of anyone who couldn't reasonably vote at even, say, 14, being able to vote at 18.

            2 votes
        2. jgb
          Link Parent
          Very fair point. It's indisputable that many 16 year olds shoulder more responsibilities than many 30 year olds (and are likely better able to make mature decisions in elections too). However,...

          Very fair point. It's indisputable that many 16 year olds shoulder more responsibilities than many 30 year olds (and are likely better able to make mature decisions in elections too). However, since at 18 one may enter contracts and be sued in a court of law (at least in my country), it seems a reasonable age to use to objectively - if not always fairly - decide who has attained enough responsibility such that they may vote.

          3 votes
    2. [2]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. jgb
        Link Parent
        Have you challenged her on this? Voting exclusively for one gender seems like an astonishingly blinkered thing to do?

        she otherwise just votes for any Democrat woman

        Have you challenged her on this? Voting exclusively for one gender seems like an astonishingly blinkered thing to do?

        1 vote
    3. Tygrak
      Link Parent
      When I turned 18, I voted different from my parents even in the first vote that I could. Actually almost the opposite happened, I have changed who my mom voted for in the elections. Not in every...

      When I turned 18, I voted different from my parents even in the first vote that I could. Actually almost the opposite happened, I have changed who my mom voted for in the elections. Not in every one of them but in a few of them she has changed who will she vote for after discussing with me about the available choices.

      Obviously just an anecdote and I still think most children would still probably vote the same way as their parents, but in a ideal world with all the children getting proper education on politics I think a lot of them would have different political opinions from their parents.

      7 votes
    4. [8]
      Litmus2336
      Link Parent
      When women were seeking suffrage, a common argument against that was that they'd just vote the way their husbands did. Obviously that's a terrible argument because women have autonomy outside what...

      When women were seeking suffrage, a common argument against that was that they'd just vote the way their husbands did. Obviously that's a terrible argument because women have autonomy outside what their husbands allow, yet I would also imagine most married women probably are relatively politically aligned with their significant other, at least in who they vote for in national elections.

      I do wonder what percentage of married women vote the same way as their husbands. I'm also curious what percentage of children would vote the same way as their parents. I would not have voted differently than my parents in the generals, but would in the primaries. (For the parliamentarians, a primary is the equivalent of choosing who the representative from your district is for your preferred party. From what I gather a separate election for that doesn't exist in most parliamentary systems?)

      5 votes
      1. [2]
        Algernon_Asimov
        Link Parent
        I'm not saying all teenagers will vote the same as their parents. However, even though I am today an intelligent, politically informed, and wilful adult... back then, I was an intelligent,...

        I'm also curious what percentage of children would vote the same way as their parents.

        I'm not saying all teenagers will vote the same as their parents. However, even though I am today an intelligent, politically informed, and wilful adult... back then, I was an intelligent, politically ignorant, and timid teenager. I saw no reason to vote differently than my parents. There was no intimidation or influence on their part; I just followed their example.

        I know I'm special (ha!), but I'm not that special. I assume there are other teenagers who would behave similarly to me. I can also imagine that there would some parents who, unlike mine, would seek to actively influence or even control their child's vote. That's why I'm advocating for some form of education for young people to learn how to make their own decisions about how to vote.

        (For the parliamentarians, a primary is the equivalent of choosing who the representative from your district is for your preferred party. From what I gather a separate election for that doesn't exist in most parliamentary systems?)

        Yes and no.

        We have no analogue to your President or your election process for the President, so we have nothing that corresponds to your nationwide primaries. However, our political parties do have selection processes for their political candidates.

        We elect 151 Members of the House of Representatives and 76 Senators at a federal level. All candidate selections are handled locally, by local branches.

        Each local branch of a political party goes through a process called "pre-selection" to select their local candidate. This process starts with party members nominating people to be the local candidate. The nominees are then screened and interviewed by the branch's committee (all branch members are eligible and invited to attend, but many don't bother). Larger branches in larger parties will run a ballot among the branch members to elect a nominee to be the candidate. Smaller branches in smaller parties just rely on the branch committee to make the decision.

        In summary:

        • Local branches pre-select local candidates.

        • Only party members participate in the pre-selection process.

        Basically our parties do the same thing that yours do, but they do it on a local basis, 227 times across the country instead of once.

        6 votes
        1. Litmus2336
          Link Parent
          That's good to know, thank you. I had done some research because of the comment (I realized as you were an Aussie it was slightly different) but only found a bit of info on pre-selection.

          That's good to know, thank you. I had done some research because of the comment (I realized as you were an Aussie it was slightly different) but only found a bit of info on pre-selection.

      2. [4]
        knocklessmonster
        Link Parent
        I think the argument is more valid when applied to a child than an adult woman. The husband wasn't an authority in the same way that the same man as a father would be.

        I think the argument is more valid when applied to a child than an adult woman. The husband wasn't an authority in the same way that the same man as a father would be.

        5 votes
        1. [3]
          gergir
          Link Parent
          Perhaps it is different in your locality, but in most places in the world, when the cameras are off, mothers carry more authority than fathers. My father would undoubtedly have let me vote; my...

          Perhaps it is different in your locality, but in most places in the world, when the cameras are off, mothers carry more authority than fathers. My father would undoubtedly have let me vote; my mother.., I don't think so!

          What puzzles me is that one keeps hearing that the human brain, the neo-cortex in particular, is not fully developed until age ~22/24 for women/men respectively. I have it right here in a textbook for this coming year. So even 18 seems early, no?

          It's not quite an urgent matter, though. I live with 97 others in my general agebracket; much is discussed, but politics does not make the Top 10.

          4 votes
          1. [2]
            knocklessmonster
            Link Parent
            Even in the US, the wife, in at least the mid 20th century, tended to be in charge of the finances and home management (this, unfortunately also includes the "domestic housewife" stuff). I think...

            Even in the US, the wife, in at least the mid 20th century, tended to be in charge of the finances and home management (this, unfortunately also includes the "domestic housewife" stuff).

            I think it comes down somewhat to cultural expectations. If we expect kids to be more adult by sixteen, they'll be more likely to try to fill the role, I started thinking differently in the run-up to being 18 because of the shift in legal responsibilities that came, but this doesn't mean I was physically an adult, in a sense.

            4 votes
            1. gergir
              Link Parent
              You're right re. filling the position. Most don't believe it, but where I was born 9y olds cooked and cleaned for entire extended families, while the 7y olds looked after the babies. I'm sure...

              You're right re. filling the position. Most don't believe it, but where I was born 9y olds cooked and cleaned for entire extended families, while the 7y olds looked after the babies. I'm sure we're capable of much more, and much earlier if necessary; I've seen it close up (not just the household tasks mentioned).

              However, I doubt I (or my peers) would make wise decisions if allowed to vote at 16. That by no means throws shade on your having been capable to do so at 18; I don't question that. You must have started earlier informing yourself, which is laudable.

              3 votes
      3. Wes
        Link Parent
        The argument might be the same, but the justification is different. Women have far more autonomy than children do, and are more likely to make different decisions than their husbands.

        The argument might be the same, but the justification is different. Women have far more autonomy than children do, and are more likely to make different decisions than their husbands.

        5 votes
  2. [2]
    imperialismus
    Link
    I think most 18-year-olds are barely mature enough to vote, but you have to set the age of majority somewhere. And if you get the responsibilities of an adult, you need to get the basic rights of...

    I think most 18-year-olds are barely mature enough to vote, but you have to set the age of majority somewhere. And if you get the responsibilities of an adult, you need to get the basic rights of an adult at the same moment. I don't think lowering the voting age to an age where even fewer individuals truly are mature enough is a great idea. But if it were to happen, it should be limited to local elections, where the teens can more closely observe the effects of their choices and the potential to fuck up is contained.

    The idea of removing an age limit in favor of some sort of civics test, as suggested by some, makes me deeply uncomfortable and sounds like a terrible idea. While I do agree that it's highly desirable that voters know how their political system works and how to make rational choices, any actual attempt to enforce this in practice is likely to act as an unjustified and unfair barrier to participation of certain socioeconomic classes, races, ethnicities, religions etc. In a perfect world it could work. In this one, even the expectation of failure can set someone up to fail, and that is before we even get into overt bias.

    12 votes
    1. KernelPanic
      Link Parent
      Whilst most 18-year-olds may be barely mature enough to vote (in your opinion), surely the only ones who are going to vote are the ones who either know enough about politics to understand the...

      Whilst most 18-year-olds may be barely mature enough to vote (in your opinion), surely the only ones who are going to vote are the ones who either know enough about politics to understand the importance of voting, or care strongly enough about a specific issue to vote.
      I agree with you in terms of a general civics test being a bad idea, but what about limiting it to only be required for individuals younger than 18 to vote? This would possibly mitigate the cases of parents pushing 16-year olds to vote, and ensure that only young people who actually know what their doing and care about voting can vote.

      2 votes
  3. [37]
    vili
    Link
    In the previous comments here, @Algernon_Asimov has advocated for the need to educate voters, while @spit-evil-olive-tips suggested that everyone, from the moment they crawl out of their mothers'...

    In the previous comments here, @Algernon_Asimov has advocated for the need to educate voters, while @spit-evil-olive-tips suggested that everyone, from the moment they crawl out of their mothers' wombs, should automatically have the right to vote. I would combine these two approaches.

    I would make voting available for any individual regardless of age, but I would also require every voter to first pass an exam that tests them on their basic understanding of their country's political, social, judicial, economic and other core systems. I would also make it necessary for people to retake that exam, maybe every ten years or so, to demonstrate that they have maintained that knowledge and are up to date with recent changes.

    The exam should be free to take and all study materials should be made available for free. To further encourage people to take the exam, successfully passing it could offer some sort of a financial reward, maybe as a one-off payment or a tax deduction.

    I know that this type of an arrangement would cost money to set up and run, but I think (without having any evidence for it) that in the long run it would pay back through the benefits brought by a more informed, stable, better functioning and less polarised society. I am also aware that a system like this can be seen as discriminating against those who for one reason or another are unable to successfully pass an exam. I also know that this would likely lead to fewer people taking part in the democratic process than currently, but I don't see the quantity of votes anywhere near as meaningful as the quality of them. I also recognise the challenge of designing the proposed voter's exam in a way that would be as objective and free of political bias as possible, but I certainly don't see this as an impossible task. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I am fully aware that this sort of a system is not something that would ever happen in most countries, as more educated voters are not necessarily what most political parties want to have.

    Nonetheless, I would strongly advocate for a noocratic model rather than any arbitrary age limits. While I definitely see the value of age, or rather life experience, when making decisions that deal with social issues, I think that rather than asking what age limit marks the passage to someone having sufficient life experience, a more pressing need is to get people to understand what they are actually making decisions about when they are voting. Until then, our elections and referendums are little more than popularity contests.

    7 votes
    1. [31]
      cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Ah yes, because nothing says "healthy democracy" like using standardized testing to disenfranchise a massive number of your country's most vulnerable, isolated, disabled and/or underprivileged...

      Ah yes, because nothing says "healthy democracy" like using standardized testing to disenfranchise a massive number of your country's most vulnerable, isolated, disabled and/or underprivileged population. And where have I heard that idea before? Oh, right. :/

      19 votes
      1. alyaza
        Link Parent
        not to mention the fact that even current democratic processes, which don't require voter tests, to some extent disenfranchise many people with intellectual disabilities or processing disorders...

        Ah yes, because nothing says "healthy democracy" like using standardized testing to disenfranchise a massive number of your country's most vulnerable, isolated, disabled and/or underprivileged population.

        not to mention the fact that even current democratic processes, which don't require voter tests, to some extent disenfranchise many people with intellectual disabilities or processing disorders like dyslexia. that sort of thing would absolutely skyrocket if you suddenly made standardized testing a thing people need to pass to vote.

        13 votes
      2. [29]
        Rocket_Man
        Link Parent
        This is basically a meta comment but I think you're response is bad. Are you really just saying That's racist? There's so many points you could've actually addressed but you're being sassy...

        This is basically a meta comment but I think you're response is bad. Are you really just saying That's racist? There's so many points you could've actually addressed but you're being sassy instead. You've got 8 votes compared to Vili's 4 at the moment. Even though he clearly added more to the discussion than you. This sort of thing crops up every once in a while and I don't know if Tildes as a platform will ever be able to fix it. People vote with who they agree with, period.

        9 votes
        1. [5]
          alyaza
          Link Parent
          aside from the fact that that's a pretty uncharitable interpretation of that comment, there's an unavoidable racial component of standardized testing as a criterion for being a voter in america,...

          aside from the fact that that's a pretty uncharitable interpretation of that comment, there's an unavoidable racial component of standardized testing as a criterion for being a voter in america, because for almost a century a large section of the country went out of its way to implement such measures as a way of disenfranchising and making into second-class citizens an entire population of people who they deemed racially inferior. you especially can't ignore that sort of thing when, as mentioned by a few folks in this thread, there are still massive racial disparities that exist in things like access to good education which would essentially recreate that disenfranchisement in modern times if you tried to implement such measures again.

          7 votes
          1. Rocket_Man
            Link Parent
            I'm less interested in the topic than the way it was presented. I wasn't disputing that a racial component exists, but writing a comment that focuses on that entirely and in my opinion was...

            I'm less interested in the topic than the way it was presented. I wasn't disputing that a racial component exists, but writing a comment that focuses on that entirely and in my opinion was dismissive about the overall idea is unproductive. Part of the reason I interpreted the comment that way was that @vili already proposed ways of making the exam as available as possible along with study materials. That is directly related to concerned about disenfranchisement but wasn't mentioned.

            2 votes
          2. [3]
            vili
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            I must say that my reaction to the tone of the first comments in this thread (edit: sorry, I'm on mobile and originally mistakenly saw you, @alyaza, as the first commenter) was very similar to...

            I must say that my reaction to the tone of the first comments in this thread (edit: sorry, I'm on mobile and originally mistakenly saw you, @alyaza, as the first commenter) was very similar to @Rocket_Man's, which is why I did not end up responding to it directly. However, the points that you raise here are certainly all very valid.

            Looking back, I made the mistake in my top level comment of replying to a very US specific article with a comment that was intended as a more general musing over alternatives to present day democratic systems and requirements. My one-line reference to the potential problems of discrimination was clearly not enough to convince you or @alyaza about the potential to navigate dangers inherent in the proposed system, and I think fairly so. Perhaps had I better indicated that I was no longer specifically discussing the US, the responses might have been slightly different. But even then, you both raise very important points and refer to historical examples that certainly speak against a poorly implemented civic exam type of a system. I too have often thought about this.

            Secondly, the epistocratic idea that I promote in the comment(s) is definitely far more of a pipe dream than lowering the voting age by two years as was mentioned in the article. As a result, I shifted the nature of the discourse without really marking that shift properly, and I think that also made my original comment less appealing to some, who perhaps saw it as being intended as a more direct alternative to the article's proposed amendment.

            How's that for a meta-comment, @Rocket_Man? :) Thanks for starting this, I have learnt new things to keep in mind in the future.

            2 votes
            1. [2]
              alyaza
              Link Parent
              you accidentally replied one level too high, although the pings kinda negate that.

              you accidentally replied one level too high, although the pings kinda negate that.

              1. vili
                Link Parent
                Yeah, or actually I rather failed to notice that you were not cfabbro anymore in that second comment. Sorry about that. I guess I need to be a bit more attentive with the mobile interface.

                Yeah, or actually I rather failed to notice that you were not cfabbro anymore in that second comment. Sorry about that. I guess I need to be a bit more attentive with the mobile interface.

        2. [23]
          cfabbro
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          Just because one person takes >2000 words to present an idea, and another person only requires <50 to point out its fundamental flaws (and even provide a very recent historic example of how...

          Just because one person takes >2000 words to present an idea, and another person only requires <50 to point out its fundamental flaws (and even provide a very recent historic example of how horrible the idea plays out in practice), doesn't mean the shorter comment is necessarily "bad", regardless of the sass level in it.

          And the reason why I basically just said "that's racist" is because it is. So long as socioeconomic disparity exists along racial lines, implementing such a voting restriction system is in practice unavoidably racist (i.e. racially discriminatory). Now that doesn't mean I think @vili is a racist, because I do not, but in practice their idea cannot be anything but racist simply due to the unfortunate reality we find ourselves facing in most Western nations where socioeconomic disparity disproportionately effects minority groups.

          And I would also like to point out that not only is the idea fundamentally racist, but it is also fundamentally ableist as well, since many disabled people (myself included) are physically and/or mentally incapable of, or struggle tremendously with, taking standardized tests.

          5 votes
          1. [8]
            vili
            Link Parent
            I definitely won't deny the potential for racism and other kind of discrimination. I do not, however, think that the system in itself would be inherently racist. In another comment here (sorry I'm...

            I definitely won't deny the potential for racism and other kind of discrimination. I do not, however, think that the system in itself would be inherently racist.

            In another comment here (sorry I'm on mobile and can't figure out how to link to it) I explored a bit what I perhaps should have done better in my top level comment to the article, to which you responded. But of course even then, I certainly respect your view and don't expect you to see the proposed idea itself in any sort of a more positive light.

            Now I must sign off, for I have just burnt the bowl of rice that I was boiling for dinner. Goddamn politics. Hah!

            6 votes
            1. [7]
              cfabbro
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              See, where you see only potential for racism, I see a very clear historic track record of it being used for exactly that purpose, and it being an inherent nature to the idea. What you're proposing...

              See, where you see only potential for racism, I see a very clear historic track record of it being used for exactly that purpose, and it being an inherent nature to the idea. What you're proposing is discriminatory at its very core so long as socioeconomic disparity and disability of any kind exists. You are simply arguing that the benefit outweighs the downsides, which I absolutely disagree with.

              Now, were we living in a utopic, post scarcity society where no socioeconomic disparity, prejudice or disability existed, then maybe we could implement such a system without it unavoidably skewing the results in favor of the privileged (because there wouldn't be any)... but if we were living in such a society would we really need to limit who can vote anyways?

              5 votes
              1. [6]
                vili
                Link Parent
                I definitely hear you and yes, I think you are absolutely right that we fundamentally disagree whether the benefits outweigh the negatives, or if the negatives are fewer or more than the negatives...

                I definitely hear you and yes, I think you are absolutely right that we fundamentally disagree whether the benefits outweigh the negatives, or if the negatives are fewer or more than the negatives in current democratic systems. I personally have quite little faith in how the world currently operates. My feeling is that in our typical Western democratic systems, a lot of people are taken advantage of because their ignorance, usually through no fault of their own. Politics has become a popularity contest.

                From my pont of view, the level of potential discrimination in an epistocratic system would depend on the type of voter exam administered. I would not expect voters to be political experts, but I would expect a basic level of understanding of how the systems governing the country work. I believe that knowledge would not only engage voters more, but also prevent the worst type of populist campaigns that promise things to voters that don't make sense to most educated people.

                But as I said elsewhere, I certainly have no proof of this.

                5 votes
                1. [5]
                  cfabbro
                  Link Parent
                  I don't disagree with you there... however what you're arguing for as a solution is incredibly exclusionary even under the most ideal circumstances, and IMO would end up with a ton of people...

                  My feeling is that in our typical Western democratic systems, a lot of people are taken advantage of because their ignorance, usually through no fault of their own. Politics has become a popularity contest.

                  I don't disagree with you there... however what you're arguing for as a solution is incredibly exclusionary even under the most ideal circumstances, and IMO would end up with a ton of people falling through the cracks. And no matter how you implement such a system it's likely to disproportionately effect those among us who can least afford to have their political voice further suppressed.

                  This is why the solution I favor is more in line with Algernon_Asimov's above; Launch educational initiatives and increase funding, implement mandatory voting with national holidays on voting day, remove money from politics as much as possible by instituting strict campaign finance laws, political advertising standards and party/candidate subsidies (like we have here in Canada), get rid of first-past-the-post, etc. etc. etc.

                  4 votes
                  1. [4]
                    vili
                    Link Parent
                    As you can probably guess, I on the other hand am vehemently against mandatory voting, as even with increased education I have a hard time seeing it doing anything but increasing the noise and...

                    As you can probably guess, I on the other hand am vehemently against mandatory voting, as even with increased education I have a hard time seeing it doing anything but increasing the noise and devaluing elections. My understanding is that countries that implement mandatory voting don't have better educated or more logically functioning voters than others. (Sorry, I don't have a reference to give you for this although I really should, so take it with the necessarily grain of salt.)

                    While education alone would work in a perfect world (we got there again!), without some sort of checks to evaluate the learning and rewards to make paying attention to it worthwhile (the system I proposed), I don't really see it helping that much. Particularly so in countries where the education system needs improvement (and funding) to begin with.

                    That said, in general I am definitely all for better education. I would actually say that education is the most important component for a fair and functioning society and should not only be free for all (on all levels), but equally available for all. Well, education and healthcare both. This probably betrays my Nordic roots.

                    With everything else that you mention, I am also fully on board. The money involved in politics is a particularly huge problem and one reason why I have become so cynical about democratic systems in the past couple of decades.

                    I also want to stress that if I were given the power to mold our political systems (probably good that I'm not), it would be extremely important that those who need assistance of any kind to pass the proposed voter's exam would be given all the assistance that they need. I'm sure it could never be made perfect and fully discrimination free, nothing can, yet the basic intention of the exam would not be to filter out anyone, but rather to create a system that helps people to attain the necessary knowledge to make informed political decisions and rewards them for putting in the time and energy. Or that's anyway how I envision it. But I definitely see the pitfalls that you have pointed out.

                    4 votes
                    1. [3]
                      cfabbro
                      (edited )
                      Link Parent
                      If that is truly your intention, then shouldn't you be arguing for mandatory civics courses rather than examinations? Because examinations where a failing grade mean you lose your right to vote...

                      yet the basic intention of the exam would not be to filter out anyone, but rather to create a system that helps people to attain the necessary knowledge to make informed political decisions and rewards them for putting in the time and energy.

                      If that is truly your intention, then shouldn't you be arguing for mandatory civics courses rather than examinations? Because examinations where a failing grade mean you lose your right to vote will always exclude and filter people out, even those who are potentially informed enough to make "good" political decisions but are simply incapable of taking or passing your exam.

                      Now a mandatory civics course (online or otherwise) before elections is something I can actually get behind, but only if there was a federal holiday to go along with it, and only if there was no exam afterward that could potentially exclude those who were incapable of passing it.

                      3 votes
                      1. vili
                        Link Parent
                        I would not argue for mandatory courses because I would hope that everyone has the freedom to decide how much they want to take part in their country's political system. Some do not care one bit...

                        I would not argue for mandatory courses because I would hope that everyone has the freedom to decide how much they want to take part in their country's political system. Some do not care one bit while others may have religious reasons to object, and that's okay. I would not want to force participation of any kind to anyone.

                        That said, schools could perhaps prepare students for the exam as part of the curriculum when discussing the political system anyway.

                        3 votes
                      2. mundane_and_naive
                        Link Parent
                        Actually a test and a course aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. I'm thinking of those safety quizzes that let you retake as many times as you like until you pass 100/100. Everyone are provided...

                        Actually a test and a course aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. I'm thinking of those safety quizzes that let you retake as many times as you like until you pass 100/100. Everyone are provided with all the materials needed. Anyone can pass as long as they keep trying so no one is excluded. And we have a check to make sure that those who goes on to vote are really certified for it.

                        There's still the issue of how to accommodate for minorities. But if we can figure out ways to allow them access to learning materials and voting facilities, they should be no different from access to testing facilities too.

                        1 vote
          2. [14]
            Rocket_Man
            Link Parent
            I'm well aware that the length of a comment does not denote it's quality. But stating a single flaw in an idea and dismissing it entirely without even addressing the points made by OP directly...

            I'm well aware that the length of a comment does not denote it's quality. But stating a single flaw in an idea and dismissing it entirely without even addressing the points made by OP directly relating to that flaw does make it a poor comment.

            I think part of the issue is that you're position implicitly holds that the idea isn't worthwhile if it's racist. But you don't explicitly state that.

            6 votes
            1. [13]
              cfabbro
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              So, ironically, you don't discriminate (pun intended) based on length of a comment but merely the amount of flaws it points out? And while it may just be a "single flaw" that I pointed out, it's a...

              So, ironically, you don't discriminate (pun intended) based on length of a comment but merely the amount of flaws it points out? And while it may just be a "single flaw" that I pointed out, it's a giant, gaping and fundamental one IMO. And given that, do all the various other minor ones really need to be pointed out as well?

              I think part of the issue is that you're position implicitly holds that the idea isn't worthwhile if it's racist.

              Uh... and yours is that isn't true? If so, we definitely are never going to see eye to eye so we should probably end our conversation here before one of us says something they will regret (which will probably be me, TBH).

              3 votes
              1. [12]
                Deimos
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                I think you two got off track a bit. The problem isn't that you pointed out a (legitimate) major issue in the idea, or that your response was short, it's that you did it in a condescending and...

                I think you two got off track a bit. The problem isn't that you pointed out a (legitimate) major issue in the idea, or that your response was short, it's that you did it in a condescending and sarcastic manner. The "ah yes", "where have we seen that before?", "what could possibly go wrong with that?!", "oh wait" style of phrasings all have an implication of "you're an idiot for not knowing about why similar plans were bad".

                Despite being flawed, @vili's comment was clearly written in earnest. The flaws can be explained just as well (and just as briefly) without the belittling tone.

                5 votes
                1. [11]
                  cfabbro
                  (edited )
                  Link Parent
                  Earnest in intention or not, @vili was (and still is, despite all arguments against it) literally arguing in favor of discrimination and disenfranchisement at a national level... using a very...

                  Earnest in intention or not, @vili was (and still is, despite all arguments against it) literally arguing in favor of discrimination and disenfranchisement at a national level... using a very similar method to that which has historically been used (and still was being used up until the 1960s) for institutional level racial discrimination and disenfranchisement in the US. Does that not, at some basic level, deserve a certain amount of derision in response?

                  And this is one of those cases where it feels like intention honestly doesn't really matter, since even discounting that, it's a fundamentally racist idea so long as socioeconomic disparity exists along racial lines (which it unfortunately still does). And because of that I also can't help but see parallels to the "race realism" bullshit we saw pop up here before, since even if people's motivations for bringing that issue up are "pure", the idea itself is intrinsically racist.

                  Maybe that makes me an asshole for thinking so and responding the way I did... and maybe I need to try to avoid political discussions on Tildes in the future if that is the case. But in this particular instance I am actually not going to apologize for the way I responded initially.

                  1 vote
                  1. [8]
                    kfwyre
                    Link Parent
                    Genuine question: what purpose does the derision serve? I ask because I personally consider sarcasm to be toxic to discussion, particularly on divisive issues, and especially online where there...

                    Genuine question: what purpose does the derision serve?

                    I ask because I personally consider sarcasm to be toxic to discussion, particularly on divisive issues, and especially online where there isn't the trust of a solid interpersonal relationship to soften the blow.

                    To me, your later comments where you spoke directly yet genuinely are all more valuable and compelling than your first one where you conveyed your points sarcastically, and that's coming from someone who agrees with you (as a teacher I could say a LOT about how standardized testing negatively impacts specific communities). To me the derision is counter to good discussion, but I'll also admit that my interpretation of it is limited. What value do you see in it?

                    5 votes
                    1. [7]
                      cfabbro
                      (edited )
                      Link Parent
                      Derision has the exact same purpose and value that is found in satire. Some ideas deserve to be mocked and often that is most appropriate and effective response to them, as the risk with engaging...

                      Derision has the exact same purpose and value that is found in satire. Some ideas deserve to be mocked and often that is most appropriate and effective response to them, as the risk with engaging with them in earnest is that you legitimize them.

                      And even by simply allowing a debate on an issue to occur on a platform, the idea is then presupposed to be potentially valid... and when it comes to implicitly discriminatory topics, like literacy tests and "race realism", that is incredibly toxic and off-putting, especially to those that are directly effected by that discrimination.

                      E.g. No matter how objectively framed or well moderated to avoid explicit declarations of hate, something like "Is homosexuality a mental illness?", would likely drive off many LGBT+ individuals from the site, even if all the top voted comments were explaining that it is not a mental illness.

                      1 vote
                      1. [6]
                        kfwyre
                        Link Parent
                        Thanks for your response. It helps me better understand where you're coming from. I definitely get and support the want to have a space that's free from discrimination, particularly the more...

                        Thanks for your response. It helps me better understand where you're coming from. I definitely get and support the want to have a space that's free from discrimination, particularly the more insidious or invisible types. It's one of the things that drove me both away from other communites and towards Tildes in the first place!

                        That said, I think where we disagree philosophically is that I think it's possible to speak out sincerely against something without necessarily validating it. To me there's a difference between engaging in an argument against someone's points (which I agree can yield the appearance of validity to their position) and simply naming their behavior (which I don't see as validating). I don't think your original post would have lost anything had you simply said "This idea has a lot of parallels with the racist literacy tests that have been used to subjugate black voters," for example. I don't think phrasing of that type would have lended out any validity you didn't want to either, though I can't speak for you.

                        Furthermore, I often think messages of a sincere, direct type can have a corresponding positive effect that sarcastic ones don't. For example, in the context of the proposed situation about homosexuality and mental illness, if I opened the thread to see a bunch of comments earnestly identifying that the post was demeaning to people like me, I'd feel affirmed in a way that I wouldn't if it were just people deriding the poster. To me, sarcasm in that instance primarily critiques the poster, while genuine statements opposing the poster's question primarily affirm me, if that makes sense? It's the difference between the thrust of the community's message being "OP doesn't belong here" versus "kfwyre belongs here." The latter would mean more to me, though I acknowledge this is an individual thing and not necessarily universal.

                        That said, I also think there's a risk of collateral damage with sarcasm. Given that we know that the more subtle forms of discrimination are often invisible to the people perpetuating them (as is the nature of privilege), using sarcasm to jab someone for a good faith comment, even if that comment is in itself discriminatory, has a high risk of putting them on the defensive and shutting down further dialogue. To me, this then elevates the risk that the person will simply take their discriminatory belief elsewhere, rather than meaningfully engaging with others and potentially reconsidering it here. We lose our input and influence with someone when they choose to leave us. Of course, it's also bad to lose people and their perspectives when they step away due to the presence of discrimination here, so I totally get how there's a tension between these two concepts.

                        4 votes
                        1. [5]
                          cfabbro
                          Link Parent
                          Thanks for your response too. You have definitely struck me as one of the nicer and more earnest/sincere users on the site, and your comments here are just further proof of that. I admire and...

                          Thanks for your response too. You have definitely struck me as one of the nicer and more earnest/sincere users on the site, and your comments here are just further proof of that. I admire and respect the way you have comported yourself on Tildes and do see your point... but maybe I really am just an asshole, because ultimately I still can't find myself agreeing with you in this instance.

                          In my mind there are certain lines that I just can't accept being crossed and/or ideas I cannot treat with any respect whatsoever, and a literacy test parallel is one of them. As such I still feel that it deserves open derision because that sends a much clearer message that it's not acceptable than, "This idea has a lot of parallels with the racist literacy tests that have been used to subjugate black voters" does. And frankly I care far more about being absolutely clear that I hold the idea in contempt, which also allows others to do the same by proxy, than I do about changing the person's mind who put it forth.

                          2 votes
                          1. [4]
                            kfwyre
                            Link Parent
                            Thanks for your kind words! While I definitely try to be polite and sincere, it's worth noting that my conduct is highly selective. You'll notice that I'm absent from a lot of conversations on the...

                            Thanks for your kind words! While I definitely try to be polite and sincere, it's worth noting that my conduct is highly selective. You'll notice that I'm absent from a lot of conversations on the site, particularly the more controversial ones. Silence is often the price of civility, as I'm more hesitant to engage with difficult topics, either on account of wanting to handle myself well, or because of a latent dread of someone being hostile in response. I admire people, such as yourself, who are willing to fearlessly engage, as that's my area of weakness.

                            Also, for the record, I definitely don't think you're an asshole! You are a fantastic contributor here and were honest in your responses. With how much falsity there is in online self-disclosure these days, I admire anyone who can be both genuine and reflective. Thank you for your candor.

                            With regards to your last point, would naming your feelings in the response work (e.g. "I find this idea repulsive"), or is the "bite" of sarcasm necessary to convey your contempt? I promise I'm not trying to put you in the hot seat with my questions (and if you'd rather talk via PM or you don't want to continue the conversation, that's fine too). I'm just genuinely trying to understand your point of view since it differs from my own.

                            4 votes
                            1. [3]
                              cfabbro
                              (edited )
                              Link Parent
                              That's honestly my biggest fear with there being too much emphasis on civility for civility's sake on Tildes. In this day and age, where bigots once again feel confident enough to be completely...

                              Silence is often the price of civility

                              That's honestly my biggest fear with there being too much emphasis on civility for civility's sake on Tildes. In this day and age, where bigots once again feel confident enough to be completely out in the open with their hateful beliefs/opinions, and the recruiters for hate groups have gotten far more sophisticated and subtle in their messaging by utilizing dog-whistles and masking their "gateway" sales pitches behind carefully framed "intellectual discussions" and "debate" (see: Ben Shapiro), I fear that it's all becoming normalized again and spreading like wildfire as a result. That's why discussions of certain subjects, like "race realism", literacy tests, anti-"SJW/identity politics", and gender "critical" ideals, tend to "trigger" me, because I know exactly where they inevitably lead, even if the person who initially brings them up was acting in good faith and did so out of ignorance, and those participating in the discussion don't realize the rabbit hole of hate they are being led down.

                              With regards to your last point, would naming your feelings in the response work (e.g. "I find this idea repulsive"), or is the "bite" of sarcasm necessary to convey your contempt?

                              IMO: Framing it as an "I feel" issue renders any criticism far easier to dismiss and entirely removes the "bite" (i.e. shaming component). And yes, the "bite" is largely the point, since without society-wide expression of open contempt to these ideals and ideas it's just going to keep spreading. We need to name and shame it all back into the darkness, where it belong.

                              1 vote
                              1. [2]
                                kfwyre
                                Link Parent
                                I absolutely see where you're coming from, and in fact the exact considerations you laid out are the ones I was mulling over myself when I posted my earlier big comment about people acting in bad...

                                I absolutely see where you're coming from, and in fact the exact considerations you laid out are the ones I was mulling over myself when I posted my earlier big comment about people acting in bad faith. Invariably, we will have people come on this site and act with the intent to use norms of the community against itself, spread harmful rhetoric under a veneer of respectability, and degrade the experience for everyone here. I don't think it's an if, but a when, and that's why I think we need mechanisms to deal with this eventuality.

                                Even knowing this, however, I still have this ideal that Tildes can be separate from the standard culture wars and destructive communication methods of the internet. I believe that if we structure our community right, build it up thoughtfully, and put in place mechanisms for handling undesirable actors (e.g. spammers, trolls, charlatans, etc.), we can have a place where we don't have to be as vigilant as we're used to being online. Or, at least, I hope so.

                                I keep interrogating my personal response to your first comment, because it bothered me deeply, and I'm not sure why. It's not that it was particularly egregious, as I see sarcastic comments all the time online. There are whole subreddits devoted to celebrating them. Clapbacks on Twitter are highly valued. I often, in other settings, find myself appreciating a good takedown with bite, so why couldn't I shake a latent sense of frustration with yours?

                                I've been pulling on this thread for a while now, and I appreciate your willingness to answer my questions along the way. What follows is my overthinking:

                                I think I realize why I couldn't get past my personal response to your first comment: Tildes has been the first website I've been on in a long time where users don't feel like they're disposable. I recognize people here. More than that, I have entire character profiles built up for many of you. Nationalities, genders, likes, dislikes, commenting styles, random trivia. The people here feel more real to me than they do elsewhere because there's a weight behind them that I don't get elsewhere.

                                Some of that is simply our size, but some of that is also the nature of our discussions. We're not here memeing and giving quippy, pithy soundbites to whatever comes our way. People are contributing substantively and thoughtfully. Tildes right now feels like a community full of neighbors rather than just another online platform for faceless jokers and hot takes.

                                And I think to me that's why the "bite" of your comment got to me so much, because it felt like a greater interpersonal transgression to me than it would elsewhere. What I'm about to share is a really crude metaphor. If somebody cuts me off in traffic and I flip them off, it's not ideal but it's also not horrible because we're unlikely to see each other again. The relationship between us is non-existent and fundamentally disposable. On the other hand, if I were to flip off my next door neighbor, I'm damaging a relationship that I can't fundamentally throw away. I still have to see them tomorrow, and the day after that, and so on. We still have to share a space.

                                With this in mind, both my neighbor and me are likely to prioritize politeness over hostility, even in light of pronounced political differences, because it's in both our best interests to get along first and then argue second. I wasn't aware that this had become my model for Tildes until your comment. I felt like I'd watched you flip off a neighbor rather than someone in traffic, if that makes sense.

                                I'm not here to tell you to not do that as that's not only not my place but also I'm not convinced I'm even right. I don't even think I have an adequate conclusion I can give you, as this is more just me exploring my thoughts. I appreciate how forthcoming you've been in giving your reasons for feeling that what you did is valuable. If I'm being really honest with myself, I find your reasoning hard to disagree with when I turn on my news to see even more ideologically-based mass violence in my country. It makes me wonder if maybe I'm being too soft-spoken.

                                But there's another part of me that believes that beliefs are temporary yet individuals are permanent. If we attack ideas we can change them, but if we attack people we simply damage them, and I fundamentally want Tildes to be a place where people aren't attacked, even mildly. Is that fundamentally at odds with an internet that's engulfed in culture wars connected to real-life violence, oppression, and discrimination? Is that even possible between people on opposite sides of deep ideological divides? I don't know. I can't tell if I'm idealistic or just naive.

                                Anyway, thank you for being my sounding board. I know you didn't sign up for that, and this post in particular is quite the thought dump--sorry for the unload. I wish I could end on a more definitive note, but I think this is going to be an open issue in my mind for a while. Nevertheless, thank you for helping me think through things and for all your contributions to our community. See you around!

                                2 votes
                                1. cfabbro
                                  (edited )
                                  Link Parent
                                  Thanks for doing the same for me (being a sounding board). You have definitely given me pause, and a great many things to seriously consider when responding to people who express ideas I find...

                                  Thanks for doing the same for me (being a sounding board). You have definitely given me pause, and a great many things to seriously consider when responding to people who express ideas I find repugnant in the future.

                                  And just to overshare as well; For the record, I have no idea what the correct answer is here, if there even really is one, or what really is the best way to respond to those sorts of ideas when they are expressed by people (here or in real life). However my gut tells me that treating them with anything but utter contempt simply allows them space to take root. Maybe not in your mind or other people with the capacity to see the faults in them when clearly, rationally spelled out by someone, but not everyone has that capacity. Some people are just looking to have their already established biases and beliefs confirmed, even ones they deny to themselves that they hold (and so won't really be swayed by reason), and/or are naive/ignorant/stupid enough to allow themselves to be slowly radicalized through constant exposure to those sorts of "gateway" issues I listed... and because of that, IMO it's probably just safer to salt the Earth around those ideas whenever they pop up instead of giving them any ground whatsoever to propagate on.

                                  1 vote
                  2. [2]
                    Deimos
                    Link Parent
                    Intention always matters. Expressing a bad idea out of ignorance to the issues is completely different from doing it out of malice despite knowing the issues (or in many cases, pretending...

                    Intention always matters. Expressing a bad idea out of ignorance to the issues is completely different from doing it out of malice despite knowing the issues (or in many cases, pretending ignorance while secretly considering those issues to be benefits). You could argue that the distinction isn't important for people that actually implement the ideas, but that's not what's happening here. It's just a discussion on a message board, the voting system isn't going to change based on who wins the arguments in this thread.

                    Our natural state is ignorance. We all hold plenty of opinions that we believe make sense, but that someone more-informed on the topics would be able to explain the problems with. The approach to that explanation can make all the difference in how it's received, and even change the person's willingness to discuss other opinions in the future.

                    4 votes
                    1. cfabbro
                      Link Parent
                      I'm going to have to disagree. IMO intention does not always matter for the exact same reasons that sunlight is not "the best disinfectant", regardless of the fact this is just a message board....

                      I'm going to have to disagree. IMO intention does not always matter for the exact same reasons that sunlight is not "the best disinfectant", regardless of the fact this is just a message board. See my above comment as to why:

                      Derision has the exact same purpose and value that is found in satire. Some ideas deserve to be mocked and often that is most appropriate and effective response to them, as the risk with engaging with them in earnest is that you legitimize them.

                      And even by simply allowing a debate on an issue to occur on a platform, the idea is then presupposed to be potentially valid... and when it comes to implicitly discriminatory topics, like literacy tests and "race realism", that is incredibly toxic and off-putting, especially to those that are directly effected by that discrimination.

                      E.g. No matter how objectively framed or well moderated to avoid explicit declarations of hate, something like "Is homosexuality a mental illness?", would likely drive off many LGBT+ individuals from the site, even if all the top voted comments were explaining that it is not a mental illness.

    2. [2]
      alyaza
      Link Parent
      this is a very good way to disenfranchise a huge number of minorities and even poor-to-middle-class white people such that the voting population is massively out of whack with demographics. any...

      I would make voting available for any individual regardless of age, but I would also require every voter to first pass an exam that tests them on their basic understanding of their country's political, social, judicial, economic and other core systems. I would also make it necessary for people to retake that exam, maybe every ten years or so, to demonstrate that they have maintained that knowledge and are up to date with recent changes.

      this is a very good way to disenfranchise a huge number of minorities and even poor-to-middle-class white people such that the voting population is massively out of whack with demographics. any measure which is contingent on education like this will almost inevitably reflect the systematic segregation and disparities that exist in the american education system, and, accordingly, benefit the mostly white middle-to-upper-class which can afford more personalized forms of education and don't have to rely on how well funded the local school district is to get a good education at the massive expense of minorities and poorer whites.

      12 votes
      1. vili
        Link Parent
        Well, yes, I am certainly thinking about this more from the point of view of countries that have less overall social inequality and generally better performing basic school systems than, for...

        Well, yes, I am certainly thinking about this more from the point of view of countries that have less overall social inequality and generally better performing basic school systems than, for instance, the US. All the points that you raise are important and reflect issues that should be solved before a voting system that requires qualifications could be implemented on any level fair to most citizens.

        @imperialismus is also absolutely right when they write in another comment that even when a system might look good on paper (and I'm aware not everyone sees what I'm arguing here looking good even on paper), this has little direct bearing on how it would actually work in a real world scenario. I believe we have had studies indicating that average voters generally know very little, that voter education is a positive thing and that uneducated political participation is not, but we have no real data (that I know of anyway) that would actually put any kind of a noocratic or epistocratic political system to any sort of a test. Until we do have such tests, if ever, this is all very abstract. (The claims here are from Jason Brennan's book "Against Democracy", which I read some months ago, and while I wasn't entirely convinced with his arguments, it seems to have stayed on my mind since I felt the need to react to the first top level comments posted on this article here -- and the topic is certainly also something that I have returned to time and time again for a couple of decades now.)

        In any case, I would personally not use @cfabbro's label "healthy democracy" for a state of affairs where taking part in a decision making process requires no actual knowledge or understanding of the decisions being made. I don't believe there are perfect systems as there are no perfect people, but I definitely see more potential in a knowledge based voting system than in our current democratic systems, if properly implemented (and I know, that's a huge if). At least I feel it's an interesting avenue to pursue.

        In the end, I suppose the core irony here is that while I'm arguing against the idea of voter participation without education, i.e. I'm attacking the idea of people expressing opinions about things that they really know very little about, I absolutely cannot claim to have any formal background in the topic that I am writing about here. I'm just another guy on the internet, repeating something that I have read somewhere, and maybe given some thought over the years.

        4 votes
    3. [3]
      BJJ
      Link Parent
      I've always wondered how a system where you vote on current issues instead of people would work. You go to vote and it just polls you on your opinion on eg. the border, weed, abortion, and other...

      I've always wondered how a system where you vote on current issues instead of people would work. You go to vote and it just polls you on your opinion on eg. the border, weed, abortion, and other current issues. Obviously this would be hard to implement fairly, but it seems like an ideal case.

      Short term, I'd like to see political parties removed from ballots. Even if people just Google who is running in their party. That's closer to researching than I feel like most people do.

      Long term, is like to see most politicians removed. I'm a digital age, why do we need congressmen to vote on issues for us if it's so easy to just directly poll us?

      3 votes
      1. Algernon_Asimov
        Link Parent
        There's a political party here in Australia which is trying to do something like this. You vote for people, but those people vote exactly how you tell them to vote, based on a ballot of all party...

        There's a political party here in Australia which is trying to do something like this. You vote for people, but those people vote exactly how you tell them to vote, based on a ballot of all party members. When an issue comes up in Parliament, the MPs run a ballot of the party members to find out what they think. Whichever way the majority of party members votes, the MPs must vote. That's their commitment.

        It's not quite issues-based democracy - because we'd have to rewrite the whole constitution to make this happen, which is extremely difficult - but it's the next best thing.

        I have to say, I'm attracted to the idea of direct issues-based democracy, like the system used by the Athenians who invented democracy. Each voter (in those days, it was only free men with property) voted directly on each issue by placing a white stone or a black stone in a bag. We don't need to use stones these days: like you say, we can use the internet. But it would be interesting to have the people themselves vote directly on issues.

        For one thing, it would stop politicians dragging their feet on issues to appease certain interest groups, despite the majority of the populace being in favour of change (same-sex marriage and climate change are two recent examples of this in Australian politics - but we can include drug decriminalisation, euthanasia, and even tax reform).

        2 votes
      2. vili
        Link Parent
        There is some sort of an art/tech project in Finland which is exploring the idea of creating a political party run by an AI. That sounds like an interesting approach, if for nothing else than to...

        There is some sort of an art/tech project in Finland which is exploring the idea of creating a political party run by an AI. That sounds like an interesting approach, if for nothing else than to launch discussion, and maybe somewhat related to what you wrote.

        As for issue based voting, I'm quite skeptical that it would be fair to ask common people to make those kinds of decisions. Most of the topics are so complex, and the world changing so fast, that we simply don't have the time to properly educate ourselves to make informed decisions. Or at least I certainly wouldn't. Maybe others are more capable.

        1 vote
  4. [10]
    Diet_Coke
    Link
    Let 16 year olds vote, stop 66+ year olds from voting. Why should there be a minimum and not a maximum?

    Let 16 year olds vote, stop 66+ year olds from voting. Why should there be a minimum and not a maximum?

    6 votes
    1. [9]
      Algernon_Asimov
      Link Parent
      Why should there be a maximum?

      Why should there be a maximum?

      8 votes
      1. alyaza
        Link Parent
        the logic is probably that someone who is older and closer to death shouldn't get to shape policy they most likely won't be around to live to see the consequences of

        the logic is probably that someone who is older and closer to death shouldn't get to shape policy they most likely won't be around to live to see the consequences of

        13 votes
      2. [7]
        Diet_Coke
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Someone who is, say, 85 has no stake in the future. There are some extremely sharp old folks, there are also some with very much degenerated mental faculties. Compared to younger populations,...

        Someone who is, say, 85 has no stake in the future. There are some extremely sharp old folks, there are also some with very much degenerated mental faculties. Compared to younger populations, there are certainly more of the latter. In the US, you can look at Florida as an example of the gerontocracy - they are 49th in education because old people that have moved there for retirement don't prioritize education spending.

        E: ask yourself this, if the voting window was 16-66, would climate change be a more or less important issue in campaigns than it is right now?

        8 votes
        1. [6]
          Algernon_Asimov
          Link Parent
          With current and future life expectancies, this person could live another 15-20 years. That counts as "future" to me. They also have a stake in the present and the near-term future. Our Australian...

          Someone who is, say, 85 has no stake in the future.

          With current and future life expectancies, this person could live another 15-20 years. That counts as "future" to me.

          They also have a stake in the present and the near-term future. Our Australian government (I don't know about the USA) provides age pensions to people over 65-70. Recently, seniors activist groups stood up and complained about a policy which affected their pensions directly, and got a change. They also have a stake in healthcare, and aged care. They even have a stake in energy policy (they pay electricity bills). Even though someone is old, that doesn't mean they're magically excised from society.

          There are some extremely sharp old folks, there are also some with very much degenerated mental faculties.

          Fine. So institute some sort of test of capacity - like some places do for drivers licences. The old folks who can still put a number in a box get to vote, and the ones who can't see the ballot paper or remember what they had for breakfast can get someone to help them place their vote.

          E: ask yourself this, if the voting window was 16-66, would climate change be a more or less important issue in campaigns than it is right now?

          Just because a certain group has different opinions than you, that is not a good enough justification to exclude them from the democratic process. Let me reframe the same question to show you how ridiculous it is: "If the voting demographic excluded hippies and hipsters, would climate change be a more or less important issue in campaigns than it is right now?"

          4 votes
          1. [5]
            Diet_Coke
            Link Parent
            Here in the US, seniors get access to a sort of pension (even though it is not much, it basically supplements a retirement) and have access to socialized healthcare through the Medicare program....

            Our Australian government (I don't know about the USA) provides age pensions to people over 65-70.

            Here in the US, seniors get access to a sort of pension (even though it is not much, it basically supplements a retirement) and have access to socialized healthcare through the Medicare program. These programs are really popular, the problem is that old people here only care about those. Medicare for All? Nope. Schools? Nope. Infrastructure? Nope. Social programs that provide food assistance? Nope. These are longer scale investments that just will not pay off in their lifetimes, even if they live another 10 - 15 years.

            So institute some sort of test of capacity - like some places do for drivers licences.

            Here in the US we used to do that. Try this on for size, potential voter. So for historical reasons, that will never fly. Look through this thread - everyone's arguments for why not to let 16 year olds vote can be applied to the elderly too.

            Just because a certain group has different opinions than you, that is not a good enough justification to exclude them from the democratic process.

            We're not talking about a difference in opinions on municipal parking regulations here, climate change is probably going to kill me and most of the people reading this post. That's a pretty big problem with a well-deserved sense of urgency - if you're younger than 50.

            1 vote
            1. [3]
              Algernon_Asimov
              Link Parent
              If it's not okay to prevent people from voting because of their race, why is it okay to do so because of their age? Why is racism not okay, but ageism is okay? What makes one form of...

              Here in the US we used to do that. Try this on for size, potential voter. So for historical reasons, that will never fly.

              If it's not okay to prevent people from voting because of their race, why is it okay to do so because of their age? Why is racism not okay, but ageism is okay? What makes one form of discrimination more acceptable than the other?

              And... how will you feel when they take away your vote when you're old. "Sorry, oldster. You no longer get a say in this country. Your opinion no longer matters, because you're old and have no future."

              We're not talking about a difference in opinions on municipal parking regulations here, climate change is probably going to kill me and most of the people reading this post. That's a pretty big problem with a well-deserved sense of urgency - if you're younger than 50.

              But you're arguing for stopping old people from voting because they have a different opinion about climate change than you do (and not all of them disagree with you, by the way). Would you still be arguing to excise them from democracy if they happened to vote the way you approve of?

              2 votes
              1. [2]
                Diet_Coke
                Link Parent
                We already do that, though. We have a minimum voting age, so why not a maximum? Every argument I've seen for not lowering the minimum has the same logic as instituting a maximum. If that's the...

                why is it okay to do so because of their age?

                We already do that, though. We have a minimum voting age, so why not a maximum? Every argument I've seen for not lowering the minimum has the same logic as instituting a maximum.

                And... how will you feel when they take away your vote when you're old.

                If that's the rules, that's the rules. I wasn't mad when I couldn't vote at 16 or 17 either.

                But you're arguing for stopping old people from voting because they have a different opinion about climate change than you do (and not all of them disagree with you, by the way).

                Let me clarify. It's not that their opinion about climate change tends to be different than mine. That's just one example of their self interest endangering or harming the rest of us, who plan to live for another 50 or 60 years - or more, with advances in science. I do think it is the most compelling reason, but it's just a symptom of the entire short term mindset. It seems like the social ills caused by letting old people vote far outweigh the potential social ills of letting 16 and 17 year olds vote. So since we already restrict voting based on age by using a minimum, we should do so with a maximum too.

                2 votes
                1. Algernon_Asimov
                  Link Parent
                  But don't most people vote out of self-interest? Even you vote out of your self-interest because you want to keep the planet healthy and keep life convenient for your old age. It just so happens...

                  But don't most people vote out of self-interest? Even you vote out of your self-interest because you want to keep the planet healthy and keep life convenient for your old age.

                  It just so happens that your self-interest and their self-interest are different. That happens all the time. I want equal rights as a gay man, while religious fundamentalists want the right to discriminate against me. My self-interest clashes with theirs. Their self-interest clashes with mine. Do I get to excise them from democracy as well?

                  The point of democracy is that everyone gets a say - even the people you disagree with. If you can't abide by that, then you don't want a democracy, you want a tyranny. You only want people who agree with you to vote.

                  4 votes
            2. papasquat
              Link Parent
              A group of people being self interested is also not a valid reason to exclude them from having a say in their government.

              A group of people being self interested is also not a valid reason to exclude them from having a say in their government.

              1 vote
  5. [5]
    spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link
    Short answer: yes Long answer: yes, but first... Make voter registration universal and automatic, and all voting done by mail-in ballots. It's what we do in Washington state and it's wonderful....

    Short answer: yes

    Long answer: yes, but first...

    Make voter registration universal and automatic, and all voting done by mail-in ballots. It's what we do in Washington state and it's wonderful.

    Then, lower the voting age to zero. Yes, zero. If you're born on November 6th and the election is on November 7th, you're eligible to vote.

    Yes, that means if you're two parents raising three kids, that family gets five votes and I still only get one because I'm single and don't have kids. I'm fine with that.

    Yes, that means parents of very young kids would have to vote on their children's behalf. I'm also fine with that.

    It also means that kids would learn in school that voting is a thing adults do, but it's also a thing kids do. And then, kids being kids, they go home to their parents and demand that they want to vote! When told they can't vote until November, kids would be sad because they wanted to vote now so badly.

    And then, since all voting is done by mail, when voting season does roll around, it becomes a family activity where the kids can read about the candidates (or watch videos of them speak, another benefit of voting at home), fill out their ballots, then seal them and mail them in.

    5 votes
    1. [3]
      vakieh
      Link Parent
      This is a universally terrible idea and I have no earthly idea how anyone could possibly think it is an acceptable thing, let alone a good thing. Have you considered the ramifications of this at all?

      Yes, that means parents of very young kids would have to vote on their children's behalf.

      This is a universally terrible idea and I have no earthly idea how anyone could possibly think it is an acceptable thing, let alone a good thing.

      Have you considered the ramifications of this at all?

      13 votes
      1. [2]
        spit-evil-olive-tips
        Link Parent
        Yes, I have. Have you considered the ramifications of writing out the reasons you think it's a bad idea, rather than just very politely calling me an idiot? (I'm not sure how else to describe "I...

        Have you considered the ramifications of this at all?

        Yes, I have.

        Have you considered the ramifications of writing out the reasons you think it's a bad idea, rather than just very politely calling me an idiot? (I'm not sure how else to describe "I have no earthly idea how anyone could possibly think that")

        4 votes
        1. vakieh
          Link Parent
          There's a bunch that I would have assumed to be implicit You immediately make one person's vote more than that of another (no, it isn't the child's vote if the parent is casting it, you may as...

          There's a bunch that I would have assumed to be implicit

          • You immediately make one person's vote more than that of another (no, it isn't the child's vote if the parent is casting it, you may as well bring along a stuffed toy and say it's their vote)
          • You incentivise children for votes. Suddenly having a bunch of kids means you get a bunch of votes.
          • What do you do about children in state care? If I steal a generation have I found myself a windfall of votes I now control?

          The only way I can see you making that suggestion is if you had handwaved it away as not a real problem, rather than actually thinking it was ok. If you have a counter position I would love to hear it.

          18 votes
    2. eladnarra
      Link Parent
      @vakieh mentioned most of my issues with this idea, but I wanted to bring up one more. Not every family would be that happy picture of parents and children sitting around a table learning about...

      @vakieh mentioned most of my issues with this idea, but I wanted to bring up one more. Not every family would be that happy picture of parents and children sitting around a table learning about the candidates and filling out their ballots together. Abuse exists. Some kids would be forced to vote a certain way, either through emotional manipulation, threat of violence, or fear that choosing a certain candidate will out them. I don't want to give abusers yet another method of controlling their victims, and I don't want kids who are LGBT and hiding it for their own safety to be forced to vote for a candidate who hates them for who they are.

      3 votes