Wild in the Streets


Today's Cincinnati Enquirer carries a page one story about efforts to reduce the voting to 16:

Should voting age fall to 16?


It's an idea several states - as well as foreign countries - are considering as politicians desperately search for ways to boost dismal and sinking turnout among young adults. …

It sounds counterintuitive: Young adults don't vote, so lower the voting age.

But advocates say 18 is the worst time to start voting because that's when teenagers' lives are in turmoil - moving away to college, stressing out over graduation, getting a job, joining the armed forces.

And studies show voting is a habit that has to start early. If people don't start out as voters, they're less likely to ever vote. Some researchers fear that as this generation of nonvoters ages, they will stay that way, causing a dangerous dive in voter turnout as baby boomers and older generations die out. In the 2000 election, senior citizens voted at about twice the rate of 18- to 24-year-olds. …

Activists are pushing to go further: They want 16-year-olds to be able to vote. At that age most teenagers can work, pay taxes, drive and be charged as adults for crimes - even be sentenced to death - said Alex Koroknay-Palicz, executive director of the National Youth Rights Association.

In most states, 16-year-olds can get a driver's license, though usually with restrictions. And while almost every state requires that a couple be 18 to marry on their own, most states let 16- and 17-year-olds wed if they have their parents' consent. In New Hampshire, girls as young as 13 can marry, as long as they have permission from their parents.

Maybe kids should be able to vote as long as they have parental permission, too.

By all means, reduce the voting age to 16--the Wild in the Streets scenario wasn't really that bad, was it? And compared to some alternatives, it's downright conservative.