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Should only the informed vote?

Written by Alex Koroknay-Palicz Oct 15, 2008
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John Stossel did an interesting story on Friday’s 20/20 about voting. He asked whether uninformed voters shouldn’t be allowed to vote. Watch a portion of the segment here.

The piece unfortunately focuses on young voters, but certainly the message holds true for voters of any age who are, by and large, uninformed on the issues. While Stossel unfortunately didn’t phrase it this way, the question NYRA asks is why do we let these uninformed people vote when informed individuals under 18 aren’t allowed to vote at all?The segment has attracted a bit of backlash from the group, Head Count, shown in the piece (they’ve done an effective job of spreading that backlash around to other sites too). They made some great arguments:

All Americans – young and old – may not be experts on the every issue, but they are experts on their own lives.

Democracy is for all of us, not just a select few. As a nation, we eliminated the idea of literacy tests decades ago, and rightly so.

Of course those arguments, and many others they made, apply to individuals under 18 just as well as those 18-30.

So basically we have two sides representing two classic arguments about voting. One, represented by Stossel, says that voters should be educated and informed in order to vote. The other says that even the uneducated have a stake in the system and deserve to represent themselves.

Neither argument precludes lowering the voting age. So I wonder whether John Stossel or HeadCount would support lowering the voting age below 18. I wonder whether either side will apply their arguments consistently and without an ageist bias. I will contact them both.

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