14 or Fight!


An outgoing California state legislator wants to give 16- and 17-year-olds half a vote, and 14- and 15-year-olds a quarter vote. State Sen. John Vasconcellos patronizingly calls his (doubtless doomed) plan "training wheels for citizenship."

Paging Max Frost! Your time has come!

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  1. Can they also drink half a beer?

  2. I find it much more important that 18 year olds get ALL of their rights at 18, instead of some at 21 (drinking, buying handguns…) and 25 (CHL). Then we can worry about giving the half-vote to 17 year-olds.

  3. I’ve always found it incredibly annoying that at 18 years old one can enlist in the military, but at the same time one is not yet responsible enough to get drunk. WTF?

  4. I think soldiers under 18 can drink on base…. The state laws don’t count there or something.

  5. One more sign that nothing–nothing!–can change the shape of things to come: X-Men director Bryan Singer has signed on to do a remake of Logan’s Run with the twist that the mandatory “retirement age” set at 21. More here

  6. Oh, that should do wonders for our informed electorate-

    Of course, on balance, they couldn’t really do much worse….

  7. I’d still prefer a system that gives voting shares to individuals in direct proportion to the amount of taxes they pay.

    I don’t care how old you are… if you’re being taxed, you deserve some say in how those taxes are spent.

  8. Nick,

    The “twist” you mention is actually the way it was in the book written by William F. Nolan. I read it at around 15, and was a little curious how they managed to keep the entire world running w/o anyone with advanced schooling. (There is a large computer in it, but the world presented, although high-tech, was still high-maintenance.) Am guessing that noone in Hollywood wanted to try to pass off Michael York as a teenager.

  9. Before you start laughing, check this out.

    On another occasion, Vasconcellos implied that he thought Mexico might be justified in stealing California back from the U.S., since we stole it in the first place.

    Also, Vasconcellos is trying to make two seemingly minor changes to voting law seemingly not related to voting age.

    AP also neglected to mention the affiliation of one of the teenies mentioned in the article.

  10. More on the drinking age thing:

    How can you be old enough to chose people who make law, but not old enough to drink?

    If you are not old enough to drink then wouldn’t the military be child labor or something?

    This issue irritates me a lot more than it should, considering that I am over 21, and like everyone else I was able to obtain alcohol easily before I was 21.

    I think the whole deal is the state trying to be parents. I think that laws like this exist is a symptom of a large flaw the way people think about government and personal responsibility.

  11. Military service should be required for citizenship and sufferage. If you want to be counted, earn it.

  12. Russ,

    I’ve long believed there should be a correlation between the weight of one’s vote, or even the right to vote, and taxes. My feeling is that you should be forced to show proof of having paid federal income tax to vote in national elections, proof of state tax to vote in state elections, etc. You no pay taxy, you no votey.

    If such a scenario were to occur, you can be damn sure income tax would be quickly abandoned in favor of a national sales tax.

  13. Give the Mexicans California, we will take Coahuila, and Tabasco.And we`ll through in
    15 kilos of fresh tortillas de maze.

  14. “Hey dad, can I go out for football?”

    “I dunno… let’s talk about that bumper sticker you put on your car. So, you believe that…”

    Not that the pressure would be that crass, of course. Plus the kid could always BS the old man.

  15. Jim: ala Starship Troopers, eh. Course mandatory service to get franchised just promotes hardcore nationalism, which would probably lead to more war, which would require more military, which would lead to…. KABLOOEY!

  16. Won’t they all vote for Clay Aikin?

  17. 2 years of public service of their choice. But no beer or pussy. Builds character.

  18. Half votes? As somebody who has worked at a polling place I instinctively (and, admittedly, sometimes irrationally) recoil from anything that makes election administration more complicated. My view is that election administration should be based on 4 things:


    This insane proposal would only make it more complicated. OK, maybe I sound like yet another gov’t employee whining “Don’t make my job hard!” but the point is that the more complicated an election becomes, the more chances there are for errors, doubt, etc. With elections, it isn’t enough to do things the right way. It must also be 100% obvious to any observer that you did things the right way. And the more complexities you introduce, the more clouded it can be to observers.

  19. tying suffrage to military service would certainly make it impossibly problematic to continue to exclude homosexuals.

  20. Mandatory “public service?” I though involuntary servitude was abolished well over 100 years ago.

  21. “I’d still prefer a system that gives voting shares to individuals in direct proportion to the amount of taxes they pay.”

    Why should a stripper get a bigger vote than a construction worker? A lottery winner a bigger vote than a nun?

    A model a bigger vote than 8 construction workers?

    Or how’s this…

    a farmer who collects a big federal subsidy a bigger vote than a farmer who does not?

    Amazing how many people still think money=virtue.

  22. Where did anyone say money=virtue? The other Russ suggested representation (or the perceeption of it vis-a-vis voting) proportionate to taxation.

    Maybe the problem is you think voting=virtue.

  23. How about a free market election. Each vote cost a dollar, vote as often as you like.

  24. I’m serious about the public service. If we can draft people we can come up with a reason to require public service. It seems now that citizenship is no longer respected by either the government or the citizen. Mandatory service, aside from the intro to real life you get, establishes the citizenship bond.

    The twist is this: Every single citizen gets treated at least as well as a military veteran. You get the equivalent of a GI bill, healthcare for life and a free burial.

    I was kidding about the beer and pussy, though.

  25. Votes in proportion to taxes? I have a better idea:

    Establish two legislative chambers. One would represent everybody whose income is below a threshold, and the other could represent everybody whose income is above a certain threshold.

    Along the same lines, our chief executive is some unimpressive guy who got the job because of his father. No word so far on whether he’s contemplating divorce or a homosexual encounter.

    While we’re at it, let’s toss a bone to those who complain “separation of church and state is nowhere in the Constitution.” Let’s organise an official state church. Call it the Church of America. We need an institution that will mount and aggressive defence of marriage.

    Finally, we have some anti-fat busybodies trying to make the food in this country unappealing.

    God save the Queen!

  26. How can you be old enough to chose people who make law, but not old enough to drink?

    Simple. You tend not to vote, and you’re outnumbered anyway.

    Ain’t democracy grand?

    BTW, I am horrified that anyone on this board actually thought they were supposed to root for the fascist humans in Starship Troopers.

  27. It’s the “partial vote” idea that bugs the hell out of me. Either let them vote or not. Personally, I think if teenagers are going to be tried as adults and sentenced as adults then they damn well should have the right to vote for the laws they’re living under. The status quo of being tried as adults but not being allowed to vote as adults just makes me crazy.

  28. “On another occasion, Vasconcellos implied that he thought Mexico might be justified in stealing California back from the U.S., since we stole it in the first place.”

    Well, turnabout’s fair play, right?

    “BTW, I am horrified that anyone on this board actually thought they were supposed to root for the fascist humans in Starship Troopers.”

    I join you in your horror. Not only were they fascists, they were idiots. Lessee, the bugs lob an asteriod halfway ‘cross the galaxy and hit us? And you’re arguing if they’re smart? Good grief– go bugs go!

  29. How about letting black 17-year olds have three-fifths of a vote?

  30. No representation without taxation? It sounds orwellian.

    P.S. When I was 18, I barely made the grandfather clause in DC, and I could drink. The age to buy cigarettes at the time was 16.

    So the question as to how you can be old enough to choose people who make law, but not old enough to drink is a very good one.

    But an even better question is how I can be old enough to choose the people who make law, old enough to drink and old enough to buy cigarettes, but not old enough to choose what I want to hear on the radio and not old enough to choose whether or not I want to fund a pyramid scam of a retirement plan.

  31. True not everyone here is a libertarian or necessarily should be but I have to admit I expected a libertarian board to be the last place in the world to hear mandatory service (of all things) argued for. The young already give up 12 years of their life to the government (compulsory education) with only bare literacy to show for it. And the answer is more of the same? No, the young should have a chance to grow up into adult freedom (and the corresponding responsibility) and not have to give yet more years of their life to the state.

  32. Beides younger voting age, Vasconcellos also proposed:
    “A person ENTITLED to register to vote shall be a United States citizen”
    “A person AUTHORIZED to register to vote shall be a United States citizen” -from Lonewhacko’s link

    …and then some California judge would decide
    the illegal, underage alien is ‘authorized’ by domicile…

    …and that every person is entitled to vote,
    being equal under the law, and all,

    and then,
    figure that over a quarter of Californians
    are under the age of 18 already,
    and that the old white majority there is now a minority,

    Then California, with the 6th biggest economy in the world,
    with by far the most military bases in the US,
    could think about sucession, and then annexation, considering that….

    …within five years 1/3 of the youth of the nation
    will be in California, Florida, New York, & Texas.

    Demographics are killer, aren’t they!

    Vasconcellos, who I assume is of Spanish origin,
    is politically savy, and has political WILL,
    which the tired old-white-man-establishment has lost,
    and the young-white-future can’t even recreate itself,
    so those who want to sit back and enjoy what they have,
    thinking the last war has been fought,
    that the world borders are fixed forever,
    that they don’t want what another has,
    that others don’t want what they have,
    might live to see reaped, what they have sown.
    Not that there is anything wrong with that!
    It would only be right! It’s a good thing!

    oh yes, PS Vasconcellos also has proposed
    changing “he & she” to “person” in regard to citizenship.
    ‘Person’ isn’t a pronoun, and doesn’t refer back to a noun,
    and could even be considered
    and ‘person’ can refer to ONE with rights or duty,
    which can include corporations, business partnerships, etc.
    Person, as in person, could refer to mere presence.
    Of course, he might just want to end gender terms.

  33. How about voting be based on age,
    since time invested in America
    should be worth something.

    So you get one percent of a vote
    for every year you are here,
    and if you live to be a 100,
    you will have one whole vote,
    live to be 200, and you vote twice.

    That way babies and teens can vote,
    and the older, wiser ones will be valued more.
    Everyone can look forward to increasing political power.
    Some are rich in youth, some in money, and some in time.

  34. >>”On another occasion, Vasconcellos implied that he thought Mexico might be justified in stealing California back from the U.S., since we stole it in the first place.”

    >In response, Heather writes: Well, turnabout’s fair play, right?

    Heather: If you’re a U.S. citizen, can I suggest you make a switch? If you want or consider it OK for Mexico to reclaim the Southwest, you’re on the wrong side of the line.

  35. If a Democratic Senator wants to lower the voting age, there’s one reason for it: He has data indicating that those new voters would trend Democrat. If they trended Republican, then you’d hear Republicans proposing it, and the good Democratic senator would be aghast at the irresponsible proposal.

    You see the same thing with other programs that are supposedly done for the good of the voter: Motor-voter laws, busing, ‘rock the vote’, whatever. Anytime an outreach is made to new voters, it’s done by someone who has something to gain by having that particular group vote. This is no surprise, but that doesn’t mean we have to take them all seriously.

    In the end, having 14 year old kids vote is idiotic. At 14, kids are more interested in getting to second base with Mary Lou and hanging out at the arcade. Most of them don’t pay any taxes and have not entered the labor force, so they have no experience or vested interest in those issues. They haven’t gone through high school political science, social studies, or economics. They have a rudimentary math education. They still lack judgement, or we would let them drive, drink, and stand trial on civil matters. They would be terrible voters.

  36. Good point, Dan. The thing is, Republicans have never, and I mean never, advocated to extend the right to vote to any group or make it easier to vote for the existing population. All of their efforts have been to restrict the right to vote.

  37. Tax people on the basis of income?

    Why don’t just we tell all of the teachers and others who to take a pay cut to serve their community to go to Hell?

  38. Oops. I meant “Allow people to vote based on income?” not “Tax people on the basis of income?”

    Income tax does suck.

  39. “If a Democratic Senator wants to lower the voting age, there’s one reason for it: He has data indicating that those new voters would trend Democrat.”

    Read my post on this.

    Most of those voters are of the same race as Vasconcellos. Most of the illegal alien who would register to vote (under MotorVoter) when picking up their driver’s licenses at the DMV are of the same race as Gil Cedillo.

    V.’s and Gil Cedillo’s attempts aren’t really Democratic power grabs, they’re racial power grabs.

  40. This is just one more blatant attack on the family. Some want to undermine the authority of parents because they see “family” as an outdated patriarchal form of oppression. By giving juveniles the right to vote, juveniles become de jure adults. Let’s argue about the age of majority, if you want. But providing juveniles with partial votes is insanity. Either they are adults or not. Either they have a full vote or not.

    One could argue that, with the modern extension of adolescence, the age of majority should be increased, not decreased. Certainly this is the position of MADD. I emphatically disagree. We have to draw a line somewhere. 18 is fine by me. If you can convince me that a different age should be the rightful age of majority, then let’s change the age. But enough of this nonsense about partial votes.

  41. Well, after seeing who’s coming out against this proposal I’m almost tempted to support it. We have in our roster people who think marriage is under a deadly assault, and people who think MEChA sleeper cells are plotting a Reconquista of the Southwest.

    But Dan’s post brought some sanity to it, and so I remain steadfast in my opposition to it.

    Otherwise, the gays might mount a fifth column to help the MEChA sleeper cells in the Reconquista. And we can’t have that! 🙂

  42. In a TV interview on KCET a few years ago, Gil Cedillo – former MEChA member and current CA state Senator – said we should give driver’s licenses to illegal aliens because “they were here first.”

    Thoreau, could you please attempt to parse that statement for us, and explain how attempts to get ID and voting cards into the hands of illegal aliens is not a racial power grab?

    As a start, let’s restate that to: “A was here before B.”

    Who is A?

    Who is B?

    Which group(s) does Gil Cedillo belong to?

  43. I don’t want to distract thoreau from his parsing, but even the AP report says this is a racial power grab: “Student supporters said the idea could give them a say in issues such as education funding and bring new voices to a California electorate now largely dominated by older Caucasians.”

  44. Well, if you’re talking about Starship Troopers the movie, yeah, the govt was pretty abominable. However, the Verhoeven movie had very, very little in common with the original book by Heinlein.

    As I recall, the vast majority of those who chose to put in their two years service to become citizens were placed in non-military positions. And of course, no one was forced into service, they were all volunteers.

  45. How about training wheels for not voting?
    There are books that mathematically expose the lunacy of voting and explain that voting is the opitate of the masses. Even Walter Williams has a column.
    Of course what I’m suggesting has the chance of evolution being taught in Tennessee.

  46. We are issued a polling place card,
    which we can show if we like.
    I’ve been to the poll to find someone else voted for me,
    and then I have to vote on the side and it is a mess.
    Perhaps there are fewer people voting than we think,
    but voting more often.

    I think registering in other people’s names,
    registering in more than one precinct,
    is done often enough to ‘count’ around here.

  47. Has anyone thought about this? Right now, identification verification is verboten. You merely have to show up and claim to be someone on the rolls. The complexity issues aside, allowing fractional votes will require proof of identity, or else inevitably lead to fraud. (Or, possibly, to full votes for kids, because now that they are voters, they will want full voting rights, not fractional power.)

  48. JS. Good point. I take it back. You shouldn’t have to punch a ticket to get decent treatment from your government.

    Instead, I advocate all citizens be granted the same benefits as a military veteran; the equivalent of the GI Bill, health care and a decent burial, among others.

  49. Crimethink–

    Yes, I was definitely referring to the movie. I’ll admit that it’s been a while (12-13 years at least…maybe more) since I read Starship Troopers…but I do recall reading that when the book came out, many of Heinlein’s contemporaries accused him of being a fascist, reading the service state he depicted as what he endorsed. Others said it was actually a critique of fascism. Clearly, Verhooven’s movie takes the latter interpretation.

    Of course, if you assumed that everthing Heinlein wrote about was something he endorsed, then you can only conclude that he changed his mind an awful lot.

  50. Rick C-

    Actually, identification is no longer verboten. I was a poll worker last week in the CA primary.

    I was told that, under the terms of the Help America Vote Act, first-time voters have to show ID. Only a handful of voters were listed on the rolls as first-time, but for those voters I requested ID. Now, I don’t know whether that’s for their first time voting anywhere, or their first time voting in CA, or their first time in my county. I just went by whether a person’s name was flagged on the roster.

    Now, some might like or dislike these provisions. My only point was to correct the erroneous statement that ID is verboten.

  51. Scott Harris,

    Given the way you’ve presented the family as “under attack” when someone even suggests that the kids get a few partial rights, I can’t understand why some people would consider them an “outdated patriarchal form of oppression”.
    Do families fall apart or consider themselves “under attack” when the kids turn 18? Of course not.

    Given a choise between no, partial or full, I choose full. I also support an attack on families by proposing a lowering of the age of majority to something more reasonable like 16.

    As for MADD, that is definitely one group whose views and suggestions carry a lot of weight with me.

    If the age for adult treatment should be increased, it should be for all things including punishment. When talking about increasing the age of majority, we’re nearly always talking about adult levels of rights and privileges because we know that age for adult punishment is low or nonexistent.

    If we treat them as children when it comes to their rights and privileges, we have no right to treat them as anything but children when it comes to punishing them for their actions.

    Since 16 is the minimum death penalty age in 17 states and 17 in 5 more, I suggest those states lower their ages of majority accordingly.
    Going further, since states like Florida had no problem trying 12 and 13 year olds as adults with life in prison w/o parole as a possible penalty, I suggest those states lower their ages of majority accordingly.

    Whereas 14 year olds can work which entails paying taxes and employment status does not disqualify adults from enjoying all rights and privileges (that they can afford), the age of majority should be 14.

    In any case, teenagers of working age (14+) should be allowed full votes regardless of “majority” “status”.

    I’m starting to think about people under 14 who work paper routes, etc. and pay other forms of taxes and am beginning to think that they should get partial votes while 14+ get full ones…

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