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Strength in numbers: parents advocate for voting rights

June 5, 2018
Katie Visco

In a time when both women’s reproductive rights and children’s safety through gun violence are in danger, many parents have taken a stand against current political practices. One parent, columnist Ross Douthat, in an opinion article for the New York Times titled “Power to the Parents” outlines why he thinks parents deserve more voting rights to represent their underage children in the current political climate. To do so, he offers two main solutions:

  • Allowing parents to vote for their children through a system called “demeny voting”
  • Lowering the voting age to sixteen so children can have a say earlier

Demeny voting

Demeny voting” originated in 1986 as a way to combat “gerontocracy.” Douthat defined this term as when, “fertility declines and life expectancy increases and the political power of the elderly strangles future-oriented policy making.” According to Douthat, the simplest way of implementing the system is to assign a half a vote to each parent, with the possibility of single parents having a full vote for each of their children.

Lowering the voting age

The main critique of the demeny voting system is that it forces children to vote as their parents vote (which is already an issue, let alone with a law to enforce it). To offset this, lowering the voting age would allow children to gain voting freedom from their parents at an earlier age, while of course still addressing original concerns of young children not getting a say at all. In summary, parents would have a voice for their children when they are infants through elementary school, until their children gained freedom to vote at the age of sixteen. This younger age is reflective of how underage hight schoolers are making an impact in a political world dominated by adults, even though they cannot vote for another few years. Lowering the age would allow politically-active teenagers to contribute to society, as the laws imposed by the older generation often impact them directly. There is a current push for this younger voting in places such as California, and Douthat suggests trying the system on a local or state level before it comes to the national forefront.

In conclusion, parents in today’s world should be cognizant of how their voting practices can impact their children’s future years, and how they can begin to take steps to help their young ones as early as possible. Douthat concluded his opinion piece with the quote: “The hand that steers the minivan should be the hand that rules the world.” Click here to read his entire piece.


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