Who are the Best Voters?

Turns out the youths aren’t so clueless when it comes to voting after all. USA Today reported yesterday [www.usatoday.com] that the best demographic to poll for accuracy on who will win the White House are K-12 kids who aren’t even old enough to vote legally. These kids have gotten 15 of the past 17 elections right.

This is in large part due to the influence of their parents. The number one indicator of how someone will vote is how their parents vote. And I would argue that one of the most important differences between elementary school students and their “more educated” elders is that the younger ones are less corrupted by bias, cynicism and spite than their older counterparts. And as much as we might hate to believe this, many grade-school-age children know more about politics than those twice or quadruple their age. This is not to say that they should all be able to legally vote, but it is important to assess the criteria we use to determine someone’s eligibility to vote in this country.

In this way, voting has become as politicized as campaigning. Conflicts over voting rights are often conflicts over ideology: who is considered entitled? And disenfranchising people on the basis of their criminal past (regardless of the specific crime committed progress in rehabilitation), the language that the speak, the country their were born in or their ability to drive a car (many states require a Driver’s License or state I.D., which few people have unless they actually drive). (Or being a man or being white in the last century).

Unfortunately, deciding on who has the right to vote isn’t enough to ensure these people get to vote. Implementing these laws is another can of worms open to interpretation, and used as a tool for disenfranchisement.

If the goal is to have a true democracy in which there is one vote for every person, then why all the restrictions?

–Jamie Wong