Why babies should be allowed to vote

If we truly believed in democracy, we'd adopt a "vote-from-birth" system that gives suffrage to every man, woman, and child, argues Jonathan Bernstein in The New Republic

While this six-month-old did not actually cast a ballot, Jonathan Bernstein at the New Republic, says a true democracy would allow babies and children to vote.
(Image credit: Ali Jarekji/Reuters/Corbis)

"Why can't children vote?" asks Jonathan Bernstein in The New Republic. Don't dismiss the question as "preposterous" — a "vote-from-birth" system is a logical extension of our core democratic beliefs. If everyone deserves the right to vote, that means everyone — not just grownups. Under such a system, parents would be able to cast ballots on behalf of their kids, until children reach a responsible age. Sure, some prodigious procreators might have more of a chance to stuff the ballot box, admits Bernstein, "but children, even infants, have interests that are as legitimate as those of anyone else." Here, an excerpt:

Perhaps you’re thinking at this point: Surely, teenagers are too ill-informed to cast votes. But we don’t restrict the vote based on wisdom or on knowledge of the political system for current voters, including those who never finished high school or are otherwise unlikely to make wise choices. I think we’re quite right not to do so, and to remember that ignorance as the stated grounds for restricting the ballot has been a common and unfortunate thread in American history....

In the end, if American democracy is understood at least partly as a matter of interest aggregation, then the case for everyone voting makes a lot of sense. In fact, there's little doubt in my mind that if things had evolved a bit differently and we currently had vote-from-birth, no one would even dream of stripping away this right. Although Republicans might, I suppose, want to require long-form birth certificates at the polling place.

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