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Varysblackfyre321

Should we lower the age of adulthood in the US to be 16?

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Off of the shutdown thread, thought the the topic deserved a thread of its own to give it more focus.

Edited by Varysblackfyre321

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Fair enough.  @Ormond:

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Psychologists who advocate the voting age be lowered to 16 (like Lawrence Steinberg) do so because they conceive voting as being a "cold cognition" situation. I am a psychologist who finds that to be an incredibly naive position which confuses how people should make political decisions with how they actually do make them in modern times. I think many voting decisions are highly emotional and are more involved with hot cognition than cold cognition -- and I think that people who run modern political campaigns do so in a way that deliberately tries to make politics and political decisions more emotional and "hotter." Therefore I do NOT want to see the voting age lowered to age 16, because I think that adding to the voting pool more people who will have a hard time not allowing emotions to override logic is exactly what we don't need at this point in history.

Totally agree that voting decisions would fall under "hot" rather than "cold" cognition.  But, first, if the research shows individual have problems with hot cognition from 16-25, why should the first two years be barred while the next eight not?  That seems fundamentally unfair.  Second, while it certainly will increase the amount of people favoring emotions over logic, this is not a compelling argument to me because any extension of suffrage is going to do the same thing - due to the simple fact most people vote with emotion over logic, regardless of age.  That's why among the electorate, most researchers describe what's happening right now as affective polarization rather than ideological polarization.

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Sociologically and politically, I think it would be nigh to impossible to raise the voting age from 18. That just isn't a realistic option.

People don't automatically jump from being worse at "hot cognition" to being better at age 25 -- and people don't suddenly leap into being good at "cold cognition" on their 16th birthdays. Like everything else, there are big individual differences in this, but the percentage of people who are better at "hot cognition" is going to be increasing with every year of age between 16 and 25. The % of 18 year olds who are good at "hot cognition" is going to be higher than the % of 16 year olds who are good at hot cognition. At some level it is always going to be "unfair" to base any rights on specific chronological age, but at this point in history the world does not have the money or time in person-hours to give everyone tests to give them voting rights at just the point they "pass." (Of course, if you had such tests, a lot of people over the age of 25 would never get to vote, since there will always be some people who can't do this well. And it would be a huge controversy as to how the "passing level" would be set, how often the tests would be given, etc.) Using chronological age is imperfect but is probably less "unfair" than most other proxies for ability to make logical decisions would be.

And your second point just seems wrong -- though any extension of suffrage would increase the absolute numbers of people who vote with their emotions, it would also increase the absolute number who vote from logic, because no group is 100% one or the other. But if you give 16 and 17 year olds the vote, since we know a somewhat large % of them would be emotional voters than people 18 and over would be, you are going to increase the overall percentage of emotional voters, not just the absolute number, which is not something that would necessarily happen in extending the franchise to groups that are now disenfranchised for reasons other than age. 

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6 minutes ago, Ormond said:

The % of 18 year olds who are good at "hot cognition" is going to be higher than the % of 16 year olds who are good at hot cognition.

Is there research that demonstrates this?  

7 minutes ago, Ormond said:

(Of course, if you had such tests, a lot of people over the age of 25 would never get to vote, since there will always be some people who can't do this well. And it would be a huge controversy as to how the "passing level" would be set, how often the tests would be given, etc.)

Yep, this is basically my second point in the previous post.

8 minutes ago, Ormond said:

But if you give 16 and 17 year olds the vote, since we know a somewhat large % of them would be emotional voters than people 18 and over would be, you are going to increase the overall percentage of emotional voters, not just the absolute number, which is not something that would necessarily happen in extending the franchise to groups that are now disenfranchised for reasons other than age. 

Again, if there's research that backs up that 16-17 year olds have a significantly higher number of "emotional" respondents than 18-25 year olds, fair enough, that's a sound argument.  I'm just personally unaware of such research.  Further, even if there is, I'm almost certain there's been no external validity checks to see how these "hot" vs. "cold" cognition findings translate to actually voting - and my prior would be highly skeptical there's any significant difference between 16-17 year olds and 18-25 year olds.  Hell, translating the "hot" vs. "cold" cognition experiments to political preferences would essentially be testing ideological constraint - i.e. a respondent's preferences and attitudes are "logically" aligned.  And the public's lack of ideological constraint - at any age - has been apparent since the seminal work The American Voter (1960).

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Honestly I’m curious if there are any non-Americans who are from countries that have a lower or higher age of adulthood want to chime in. 

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54 minutes ago, DMC said:

Is there research that demonstrates this?  

Yep, this is basically my second point in the previous post.

Again, if there's research that backs up that 16-17 year olds have a significantly higher number of "emotional" respondents than 18-25 year olds, fair enough, that's a sound argument.  I'm just personally unaware of such research.  Further, even if there is, I'm almost certain there's been no external validity checks to see how these "hot" vs. "cold" cognition findings translate to actually voting - and my prior would be highly skeptical there's any significant difference between 16-17 year olds and 18-25 year olds.  Hell, translating the "hot" vs. "cold" cognition experiments to political preferences would essentially be testing ideological constraint - i.e. a respondent's preferences and attitudes are "logically" aligned.  And the public's lack of ideological constraint - at any age - has been apparent since the seminal work The American Voter (1960).

I can't find on short notice research that specifically compares 16 year olds to 18 year olds. But there is nothing in the literature that would indicate that maturation of the frontal lobes is not a steady process between the ages of 10 and 25. I don't think it's logical to assume there is some sort of "plateau" in this between the ages of 16 and 18. 

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Nope. I can't see any good reason for voting at 16. I don't see it as a deprivation to wait until 18. 

I don't think 'adulthood' is one legal step anyway, there is age of consent, age you can marry, age you can be employed, age you legally leave home, etc, all of which I think you can do at 16, and no, I don't think that's an argument for voting at 16. 

When I see the US legal system come up with rubbish like treating legal children as adults I see the downside of pretending people are more mature than they are. 

 

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34 minutes ago, Ormond said:

But there is nothing in the literature that would indicate that maturation of the frontal lobes is not a steady process between the ages of 10 and 25. I don't think it's logical to assume there is some sort of "plateau" in this between the ages of 16 and 18. 

I agree, but what I'm curious about is has anybody demonstrated the differences between ages are statically significant - as in is the expected linear relationship between ages 10 to 25 supported by the data?

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I'm far closer to the idea of only allowing people who own land to vote than I am to allowing children to do it.

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I'm not sure I understand the hot and cold cognition reasoning. Surely there is an emotional drive/motivation behind most voting? Most of us have some kind of emotional investment when it comes to making a decision on how to vote - maybe it's a low income worker voting against a candidate who wants to cut their benefits/social security, or its LGBTQI+ voting for someone who promises to advance their rights. There is a logical and rational factor to those decisions but they are surely motivated by emotion too... I don't know if I'm just misunderstanding. Is the argument that the decision shouldn't be emotion driven? Or that 16year olds are 'worse' with emotional decisions? (Which I guess begs the question of what worse means here).

 

(Noting the irony here of me, in the 16-25 bracket, arguing in favour of emotion driven voting, perhaps supporting Ormond's point :P Strip away her vote! )

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55 minutes ago, HelenaExMachina said:

Surely there is an emotional drive/motivation behind most voting?

Yuuup.

56 minutes ago, HelenaExMachina said:

There is a logical and rational factor to those decisions but they are surely motivated by emotion too... I don't know if I'm just misunderstanding. Is the argument that the decision shouldn't be emotion driven? Or that 16year olds are 'worse' with emotional decisions? (Which I guess begs the question of what worse means here).

Like I said, translating the "hot" and "cold" cognition experiments to political behavior would almost necessarily be measuring what's known as "ideological constraint" (I honestly can't think of another valid way to do it).  Ideological constraint refers to a respondent's consistency across a battery of preferences and attitudes.  So, someone whose preferences align - or whose policy preferences align with the corresponding candidate - would be viewed as making the "logical" decision.  You don't need to read any fancy research to know this barely exists among the American electorate these days.  From the polarization of immigration attitudes over the past 20 years within both parties, to the polarization and racialization of health care with Obamacare, to Republican voters all of sudden becoming anti-free trade once Trump took the party over, it is manifest that policy preferences are entirely conditional on what "team" you belong to - which is an almost entirely emotional decision.  I'm highly (highly) dubious that 16-17 year olds would be any worse at this than any older age group.

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8 minutes ago, DMC said:

Like I said, translating the "hot" and "cold" cognition experiments to political behavior would almost necessarily be measuring what's known as "ideological constraint" (I honestly can't think of another valid way to do it).  Ideological constraint refers to a respondent's consistency across a battery of preferences and attitudes.  So, someone whose preferences align - or whose policy preferences align with the corresponding candidate - would be viewed as making the "logical" decision.  You don't need to read any fancy research to know this barely exists among the American electorate these days.  From the polarization of immigration attitudes over the past 20 years within both parties, to the polarization and racialization of health care with Obamacare, to Republican voters all of sudden becoming anti-free trade once Trump took the party over, it is manifest that policy preferences are entirely conditional on what "team" you belong to - which is an almost entirely emotional decision.  I'm highly (highly) dubious that 16-17 year olds would be any worse at this than any older age group.

They probably wouldn't, at least not much. 

However, given that the voting patterns are already emotional isn't in itself an argument for expanding the right to vote, IMO. 

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I honestly was not too different at 16 than I am now. OTOH I was almost as remarkably mature for my age then as I am immature for my age now.

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12 minutes ago, Rorshach said:

However, given that the voting patterns are already emotional isn't in itself an argument for expanding the right to vote, IMO. 

Call me a bleeding heart, but when it comes to extending suffrage I think the burden is on why a group shouldn't be given the vote rather than why they should.  American elections decide who makes policy for the next 2 to 6 years.  16 and 17 year olds have a clear interest in who will be making those decisions.

9 minutes ago, James Arryn said:

I honestly was not too different at 16 than I am now. OTOH I was almost as remarkably mature for my age then as I am immature for my age now.

LOL.  Same.

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2 minutes ago, DMC said:

Call me a bleeding heart, but when it comes to extending suffrage I think the burden is on why a group shouldn't be given the vote rather than why they should.  American elections decide who makes policy for the next 2 to 6 years.  16 and 17 year olds have a clear interest in who will be making those decisions.

Just think of the politics-threads! They're already full of people complaining about emotional voting! They'll be completely uninhabitable afterwards..

More seriously, 16 has been tried here in Norway at some local elections. I didn't follow that closely, but I believe the conclusion was it didn't affect the election results much, if at all. 

I may have to look for that info..

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Okay. Quick check shows 20 muncipalities (of 433) gave 16-years-old the right to vote in 2011 and 2015. 

The English summary says:

5 minutes ago, Rorshach said:

The voting age for Norwegian local elections was lowered to 16 in 20 selected municipalities in the 2011 and 2015 elections, as part of a government-initiated trial. Based on data and analyses from those two elections, the purpose of this report is to determine what the consequences of a lower voting age are. The general finding is that this age does not lead to any fundamental changes in local politics. Specifically we report that:

• Voter turnout does not change. The trial-voters, aged 16 or 17, have a rate of turnout that is similar to the population as a whole, though quite a bit higher than other young voters. Overall turnout therefore remains stable when the voting age is lowered.

• There is no evidence to suggest that a lower voting age has an effect on long-term turnout. We do not find that those that were allowed to vote at the age of 16 are more likely to vote later in life than those who only received voting rights at the age of 18.

• There are large differences in turnout by social background among the youngest voters. It does not appear that a lower voting age, in itself, can bridge social inequalities with respect to voter participation.

• The political voting preferences of the youngest voters do not deviate substantially from the adult population. A lower voting age will therefore likely not affect the political composition of elected assemblies, such as municipal councils.

• The local media generally covers the voting age trials as a positive event in the community. There is close to no coverage in the national media of the 2015-trial.

• When the voting age is lowered to 16, young politicians are elected at a higher rate. This is the most concrete effect of the two voting age trials: the political representation of people below the age of 25 went up. In 2011, this happened because young political candidates received more preferential votes; whereas in 2015, parties were ahead of the curve and nominated young candidates at ballot-positions that secured their election.

If someone wants to read the report, it's in Norwegian but you'll find it here.

 

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In my opinion, not only the voting age should be lowered to 16, but parents with children of a lower age should be allowed to cast additional votes in their behalf.

As it stands now, the system is inherently skewed towards short-term policies. This wouldn't compensate it, but it would mitigate it a little bit.

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18 minutes ago, Rorshach said:

Okay. Quick check shows 20 muncipalities (of 433) gave 16-years-old the right to vote in 2011 and 2015. 

The English summary says:

Interesting stuff, thanks!

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I would increase it to 21. Teenagers are emotionally immature. In fact, as a thought experiment, why not raise the voting age to say 35? It is no discrimination, as everyone would be equally disadvantaged until they reach that age, but all would get the vote at that point.

What would be the negative side of such a policy? More responsible decision making? A slower pace of social change over the generations?

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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21 minutes ago, The hairy bear said:

In my opinion, not only the voting age should be lowered to 16, but parents with children of a lower age should be allowed to cast additional votes in their behalf.

As it stands now, the system is inherently skewed towards short-term policies. This wouldn't compensate it, but it would mitigate it a little bit.

DISagree about the parents voting on behalf of kids. Just speaking personally but that’s would have resulted in my existence giving the likes of UKIP extra votes - which isn’t absolutely NOT something I have ever wanted. I don’t see why parents should have more say over the current government than anyone else. I’m not convinced such a vote is on the child’s behalf, it’s more just giving the parents two slices of the pie.

And since you proposed it, i’ll indulge my curiosity and ask how you would organise it. Do both parents get an extra vote? If not which parent does? What about step parents?

12 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

I would increase it to 21. Teenagers are emotionally immature. In fact, as a thought experiment, why not raise the voting age to say 35? It is no discrimination, as everyone would be equally disadvataged until they reach that age, but all would get the vote at that point.

What would be the negative side of such a policy? More responsible decision making? A slower pace of social change over the generations?

Why stop at 35? Plenty of emotionally immature 35 year olds. Some very noteworthy emotionally immature persons double that age. “More responsible decision making” my left tit, it’s just disenfranchising a major demographic. And one that’s going to be impacted by these policies for the longest

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