04/23/04 — Kids voting: Officials take registration books to the high schools

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Kids voting: Officials take registration books to the high schools

Like those in Garrison Keillor’s hometown of Lake Wobegon, all of Wayne County’s children are above average. Still, they are children.

When they are one day older than 17, they can vote, which is a mistake.

The voting age was lowered some years back from 21 to 18, mainly for political purposes. The majority party at the time thought its candidates could get more votes from the young’uns than the other party. And it might. But giving suffrage to the kids doesn’t really improve government.

We know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Well, if they’re old enough to fight for our country then, by golly, they’re old enough to vote.”

Not so. We can have a fine military force with a big number of strapping youths of 18, 19 and 20. But when it comes to electing the right leaders, strapping doesn’t matter. It takes judgment and experience to do that.

The ability to think deeply enough to see through sound-bite television commercials doesn’t hurt, either. There is a scarcity of that ability even among us oldsters.

The government that tells 18-year-olds that they’ve got good enough judgment to vote also tells them that they don’t have good enough judgment to buy a beer, even when they’re 20. Some people lack the judgment to buy a beer even at 50, as you can see from the DWI reports, but that is beside the point.

What brings all this to mind is a recent registration drive by the Wayne County Board of Elections. Elections workers took the books to high schools to make registered voters of all who would sign up, provided they would turn 18 before the election.

It was done with all good intentions, of course. But it’s really not wise. If the kids want to vote, let them go to the elections office and register. That’s a simple enough test of how strongly they feel.

With 220 more of them added to our voter rolls, it’s a good thing ours are smarter than those in Lake Wobegon.

Published in Editorials on April 23, 2004 11:50 AM