Who should have the right to vote?

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Who should have the right to vote?

Postby Qaanol » Wed Sep 28, 2011 5:04 am UTC

One of my petitions to the White House created a lively discussion over on News & Articles, about who should and should not have the right to vote. I’m starting this topic to continue the discussion.

I hold the position that all adult citizens should have the right to vote, and that right should not be taken from them for any reason. Specifically, I posit that persons with mental illness should have the right to vote, and that felons should have the right to vote.

The previous discussion raised the case of a person with Down Syndrome, who has no ability to comprehend what an election is, or the concept of voting. My response was that people who do not understand voting are not going to vote on their own, so preserving their right to vote does no harm. The only stipulation is that people must be prevented from manipulating or coercing others into voting. To that end, I proposed that a person who needs assistance to vote, must be legally capable of signing a contract to allow someone to help them vote.

The case of felons did not get as much discussion. My position is based on the general idea that a system which disenfranchises someone can easily disenfranchise anyone including you and me. I gave the specific examples of states where possession of marijuana is a felony, and more broadly the case where something is made illegal which you believe should never have been outlawed. I also mentioned the case where convicted murderers lose the right to vote, which in conjunction with “life-begins-at-conception” laws raises the concern of people who have or perform abortions being barred from voting.

Others in the discussion asked about whether children and teenagers should be allowed to vote. The point was made that we trust people to drive years before we allow them to vote. The specific age of 13 was suggested as a possible voting age.

I also gave an extended hypothetical example where the requirements to be considered mentally fit enough to vote were based on a math test. At first the test was just basic addition of small numbers. Over the course of several years, the test begins to incorporate subtraction, then multiplication, division, adding fractions, basic algebra, and so on in small increments. Each time the new requirements come to a vote, the vast majority of voters—namely the people who can already pass the previous test—can pass the new test, since the changes in material are minor. As a result, each new measure passes easily, and over time the test slowly adds more and more complicated topics, eventually reaching calculus and beyond. At that point, only a small number of citizens could actually vote.

A similar example could be made for voting age. If we raise the voting age by 1 year ever now and then, the number of people who actually lose the right to vote each time will be very small. And besides, they’ll get it back within a year. So each such raise could conceivably garner a large amount of support among current voters. But when the voting age is raised high enough, only a small portion of the population can actually vote, and most people have been disenfranchised.

I would like to add that we allow people to get jobs when they are younger than the current legal voting age. If we are to have a legal voting age at all, and I suspect we must since it is far better that way than having any sort of test to pass, then I think tying the voting age to the working age may be desirable.

So far we have three main areas of discussion revolving around who should and should not be allowed to vote. These are based on age, mental health, and criminal record. That can serve as a starting place for this thread, and more areas of discussion can be explored as they arise.
Last edited by Qaanol on Thu Sep 29, 2011 7:57 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby mister k » Wed Sep 28, 2011 10:39 am UTC

I'm interested in felons not being able to vote. There was a great deal of controversy in the UK when the humans right act compelled us to allow prisoners to vote. For me its kind of a non-issue. The notion that someone will stop commiting crime because they will lose their vote is ridiculous, so as a deterrent it is not effective. So we hold it over prisoners as a punishment? Or we assume their judgment is so impaired by crime commiting that they should not have a political say. The obvious problem with this attitude is that a mendacious government could attempt to criminalise elements of the population that do not agree with them (by, lets say for an example plucked out of the sky completely randomly, heavily criminalising drugs.)

When people break the law, we take away their right to freedom of movement, so should we take away their right to vote? I don't see how the world would fall apart if prisoners could vote, and it forced politicans to actually pay a little more attention to prison conditions, which should be a good thing.

On age limits? Eh. I wouldn't be entirely against lowering the age limit, but I don't think it makes a great deal of difference. Below voting age humans are usually considered minors, and thus under guardianship of their parents, so hypothetically their interests are covered by their parents. Broadly speaking, voter apathy is greatest amoung the young anyway...

On mental illness? If someone is mentally fit enough to make their own decisions then they should be allowed to vote.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby AvatarIII » Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:39 am UTC

it's difficult to quantify when someone is mentally fit enough to make their own decisions, I'd say that if someone legally requires a carer or guardian for any reason except physical and sensory disabilities (so that would include both children, and people with mental disabilities) that would be a pretty good judge of who is mentally fit enough to vote. possibly?
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby Enokh » Wed Sep 28, 2011 1:43 pm UTC

If you are able to legally enter a contract without the aid of another, you should be able to vote. I.E., those over 18 without severe mental disorders that have led to them being deemed unable to take care of themselves.

Though, I guess those who are 17 and emancipated could legally enter a contract without needed supervision/co-signer.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby Chen » Wed Sep 28, 2011 2:39 pm UTC

mister k wrote:So we hold it over prisoners as a punishment? Or we assume their judgment is so impaired by crime commiting that they should not have a political say. The obvious problem with this attitude is that a mendacious government could attempt to criminalise elements of the population that do not agree with them (by, lets say for an example plucked out of the sky completely randomly, heavily criminalising drugs.)


But those bad laws were put into place by society who voted (most likely indirectly) for them. The intent of not letting felons vote, seems to be that they have actively harmed society through their acts. While they are being rehabilitated, their input to society is not something we would consider beneficial, since they already showed they were ok with harming society for their own gain. Frankly I don't have a problem with not letting currently incarcerated individuals vote based on that reasoning. Once you've paid your dues to society and are, ostensibly, rehabilitated then you regain your right to vote.

On age limits? Eh. I wouldn't be entirely against lowering the age limit, but I don't think it makes a great deal of difference. Below voting age humans are usually considered minors, and thus under guardianship of their parents, so hypothetically their interests are covered by their parents. Broadly speaking, voter apathy is greatest amoung the young anyway...


One of the big problems with age limits is the amount of influence a parent or other guardian has on their children. Not simply in terms of upbringing but in more overt "vote this way or we'll punish you". It seems reasonable that once you are legally responsible for yourself (an adult) it is reasonable for you to be able to vote. Doing so earlier seems like it would have little impact except to give parents more votes than non-parents.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby yurell » Wed Sep 28, 2011 2:40 pm UTC

No one, it should be a civic duty and everyone should be compelled to complete that duty.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby Роберт » Wed Sep 28, 2011 3:10 pm UTC

yurell wrote:No one, it should be a civic duty and everyone should be compelled to complete that duty.

Ack no please no no nononono no!

We have enough people already who vote without having a clue what the issues are. If you forced everyone to vote, you'd end up with a significant majority just ticking boxes 'cause they had to. It would be terrible.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby natraj » Wed Sep 28, 2011 3:47 pm UTC

Chen wrote:But those bad laws were put into place by society who voted (most likely indirectly) for them. The intent of not letting felons vote, seems to be that they have actively harmed society through their acts. While they are being rehabilitated, their input to society is not something we would consider beneficial, since they already showed they were ok with harming society for their own gain. Frankly I don't have a problem with not letting currently incarcerated individuals vote based on that reasoning. Once you've paid your dues to society and are, ostensibly, rehabilitated then you regain your right to vote.


Unfortunately there are a couple places that disenfranchise felons for life. Personally I think even disenfranchisement through imprisonment is abhorrent, but permanently even more so.

Also, if you look at the history of disenfranchisement laws, many of them were not, actually, put into place because people decided that criminals had already harmed society too much. Felony disenfranchisement (in the US) originated after blacks were given the right to vote, as part of a number of voting qualifications constructed to try and maximise the number of black people who were disenfranchised.

And it is still working today, if you look statistically at the representation of felons disenfranchised when broken down by race. Yes, that has a lot to do with our criminal justice system as a whole, but I don't think it is possible to look at felony disenfranchisement outside of the context of our justice system (and the biases that pervade it.)
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby Ambermutt » Wed Sep 28, 2011 4:54 pm UTC

The interesting one is the one about age, to me. I'm in the military, joined when I was seventeen and my parents signed a document pretty much handing me over to the government. I cannot vote yet. Not until I'm 18. I use this scenario because it seems so wrong that the government can hire me and make me do whatever work they want, but I get no say in how this government works just because of an arbitrary age limit.

As for lowering it all the way to 13, as you said in the original post, that just seems like a bad idea. Most 13 year olds are still parroting their parent's ideas, don't care enough about politics to make an informed decision, and would just mark what some adult told them to. Now I'm not saying that lot of adults do care or are well informed, but they are more likely to vote for someone for their own reasons, and not just be used by someone else to gain another vote for their preferred candidate.

I completely disagree with standardized tests. These are and will always be biased. Someone who didn't get the opportunity to have a college education should still have a right to vote. Someone who dropped out of high school, as well. Basically, the poor and the minorities would form a disproportionately small part of the voters, and these are the people who need the strongest voice to defend themselves.

That's the thing, voting is a right, it shouldn't be something you earn. You get to vote because you live in that country and under that country's government. That in itself gives you the right influence the government, because you have to live with it. "By the people, for the people", all that.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby Qaanol » Wed Sep 28, 2011 5:56 pm UTC

Ambermutt wrote:The interesting one is the one about age, to me. I'm in the military, joined when I was seventeen and my parents signed a document pretty much handing me over to the government. I cannot vote yet. Not until I'm 18. I use this scenario because it seems so wrong that the government can hire me and make me do whatever work they want, but I get no say in how this government works just because of an arbitrary age limit.

As for lowering it all the way to 13, as you said in the original post, that just seems like a bad idea. Most 13 year olds are still parroting their parent's ideas, don't care enough about politics to make an informed decision, and would just mark what some adult told them to. Now I'm not saying that lot of adults do care or are well informed, but they are more likely to vote for someone for their own reasons, and not just be used by someone else to gain another vote for their preferred candidate.

I completely disagree with standardized tests. These are and will always be biased. Someone who didn't get the opportunity to have a college education should still have a right to vote. Someone who dropped out of high school, as well. Basically, the poor and the minorities would form a disproportionately small part of the voters, and these are the people who need the strongest voice to defend themselves.

I completely agree. That is why I suggested that the minimum voting age should be set to equal the minimum working age. If you’re old enough to work and pay income taxes, you’re old enough to have a voice in the government.

Ambermutt wrote:That's the thing, voting is a right, it shouldn't be something you earn.

I agree with this too. The right to vote should be protected at the same level as the freedom of speech.

Ambermutt wrote:You get to vote because you live in that country and under that country's government. That in itself gives you the right influence the government, because you have to live with it. "By the people, for the people", all that.

Ah, now you’ve broached a very interesting topic. Namely, people who live and work in the country, but do not have “papers” that certify them as “citizens”. Should there be a special privileged class of elite people with the ability to vote, based on where they were born and whether they were able to get through the roadblock that is the immigration process? Or should everyone in a democracy have the right to vote in the place where they live?

One possible approach is to make the path to citizenship short and simple. You want to live in the USA? Great, come find a place to live and get a job if you need one. Then fill out a form and drop it off at the town hall. Now you’re a citizen and you get to vote like everyone else.

Speaking of finding a place to live, I’d also like to mention that homeless people should be allowed to vote. In particular, having a permanent mailing address should not be a prerequisite for voting.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby lutzj » Wed Sep 28, 2011 8:11 pm UTC

Qaanol wrote:I completely agree. That is why I suggested that the minimum voting age should be set to equal the minimum working age. If you’re old enough to work and pay income taxes, you’re old enough to have a voice in the government.


I don't see why voting should be tied to one's ability/requirement to pay income tax. You pay many other taxes before working age, and there are many adults who should be able to vote but do not pay income tax because of un(der)employment.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby yurell » Wed Sep 28, 2011 9:51 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:It would be terrible.


In what way would it be terrible? It evidently works for the Australian Electoral Commission.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby Ambermutt » Thu Sep 29, 2011 1:46 am UTC

Qaanol wrote:Ah, now you’ve broached a very interesting topic. Namely, people who live and work in the country, but do not have “papers” that certify them as “citizens”. Should there be a special privileged class of elite people with the ability to vote, based on where they were born and whether they were able to get through the roadblock that is the immigration process? Or should everyone in a democracy have the right to vote in the place where they live?



I think I agree with everything you said. The immigration process is all messed up. It's so wrong that a country founded on immigrants should have such a fearful and discriminatory attitude toward them now. So while I don't think anyone who comes in illegally should have the right to vote (because they still retain the rights of their original nationality), the process to become a citizen or gain dual citizenship should be much easier and accesible. And then they could vote. (/idealism)

As for the homeless: again, these are the people who most need some say in the government. These are the ones at a greatest disadvantage and at the mercy of goverment institutions (cops, healthcare (or lack thereof), welfare, etc). They're citizens? There's some way to prove it? Ok then. (On a tangent: the cost for replacing papers/passports/other Government Issued ID is ridiculous.)
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby morriswalters » Thu Sep 29, 2011 4:32 am UTC

Just a thought or two. Are a lot of felons voters? In any case loss of the ability to vote is not permanent. Should immigrants illegal or otherwise be able to vote until they understand the process? A Down's child would not necessarily be denied the right to vote although poll watchers could challenge him, his competency would then be adjudicated.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby Роберт » Thu Sep 29, 2011 3:33 pm UTC

yurell wrote:
Роберт wrote:It would be terrible.


In what way would it be terrible? It evidently works for the Australian Electoral Commission.

You're right to call a citation needed on me. However, keep in mind Australia uses IRV, so it's not exactly a direct analogy since we used first-past the post in the U.S.


From Wikipedia, it looks like Mexico, most of South America, Australia, and a few other countries enforce compulsory voting (total of 12).

Looking up Australia:
All Australian citizens 18 years and older are required by law to enrol and vote in federal elections,

I'm not sure how well it's enforced.
This means that once a person gives the AEC a completed enrolment form, we cannot prosecute the person for not enrolling before, no matter how long he or she has technically been in breach of the law.

Therefore you can be assured that anyone who may have overlooked correct enrolment in the past and who decides to now enrol to vote in federal elections may do so without any fear of incurring a penalty.

And it's not technically "everyone".
A person may be removed from the roll where a registered medical practitioner has certified in writing that the person is incapable of understanding the nature and significance of enrolment and voting.


If we had range voting or some other form of voting reform it might be okay, but we already have problems with people who don't know the issues voting on them in the U.S. (often amendments are given misleading summaries so I know people who have voted the opposite of what the wanted because of it), and I can only see compulsory voting increasing the problem. Alvin Green is a good horror story - you here people saying stuff like "oh I like his name so I voted for him I feel stupid now"; this is referring to people who chose to vote.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby juststrange » Thu Sep 29, 2011 4:16 pm UTC

I think the arguement with respect to employment would be that everyone gets the right to vote at some age X, but should you take up employment earlier you are granted the right to vote then. Conceptually - if I am going to give the government my money, I ought to have some say in how its spent. Thats not a bad assertion to make.

As for felons, I feel like for me its depedent on the type of felon. I'd like to believe that the raping-murdering contingent in the country is not so large as to sway the vote significantly, and certainly not enough to make meaningful policy changes. White collar felons on the other hand - screw them. The money-grubbing pocket-lining corporate felons, ala Madoff and company are the last group of people I want voting. They are much more damaging to the country as a whole, especially in their dealings with the government.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby Philosophish » Thu Sep 29, 2011 4:59 pm UTC

It's a shame leadership is elected by the majority (read: the majority who can't even spell adequately. I don't know about you guys, but I study at a University in Holland and still 40% of my classmates can't apply correct grammar. It's sad, really).

The thing is, here in Holland parties like that of Geert Wilders get a lot of votes by saying out loud, what people think ("No more foreigners" or "Holland is full" are common) and the more provocative they get, the more voters they get because people repeat what they hear. I shit you not when I say that 70% (at the least!!) of people who vote, could not name the values for which their parties stand, they can't name the (I don't know the english word for it, but let's call it:) second-in-command of their parties and, yes again, most of them can't even spell decently.

I say that NOT everyone should be allowed to vote, simply because most of us are, simply put, morons or at the least not involved enough (though 'morons' covers the general majority quite well) to know what we're dealing with (be honest; how many people do you know that actually back-check any argument they ever make? That alone shows a lot of my point. People, simply put, just like to talk).

I myself am not involved politically and frankly couldn't care less (yes, yes, out of philosophically grounded reasons, don't worry), but I would never critique anything done politically either because of that. I believe that there are men/women better equipped (mentally) to handle the task of leadership than I am myself and I am not afraid to let them handle it.

So, my solution:

Everyone has the right to go to the voting machines, but before they get to actually vote, ask them three random questions about any political party and/or it's members. If they answer correctly; they get to vote. If not, too bad; go do some research first.

You can't form an argument on voting if you don't know what the parties stand for and who they consist of.

Get real, get honest and stay that way. Not everyone can be good at the same things, so why should everyone have a fundamental right to vote? Most of us simply wouldn't do it very well thought through.

Ask yourself this; how many people do you know that quite thoroughly know what their favorite party stands for (except the obvious arguments which made them vote for the party in the first place).

Of all the people I know, right now I would say I know only a handful; some outspoken friends, my businessman of a father and some guys from the Philosophy courses. That's about it, yet almost everyone I know claims to know shit about politics and vote as if their argument would be best for all.

It makes me sad to see that people live with the ideal that we are all equal. We aren't and we shouldn't try to be. Stick to what you're good at, let others do what they do better.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Sep 29, 2011 5:56 pm UTC

Philosophish wrote:So, my solution:

Everyone has the right to go to the voting machines, but before they get to actually vote, ask them three random questions about any political party and/or it's members. If they answer correctly; they get to vote. If not, too bad; go do some research first.


<Sees likely Labour voter> Alright, who was the 3rd youngest member of parlaimant in 1952?
<Sees likely CDA voter> Name 3 political parties please.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby Azrael » Thu Sep 29, 2011 7:10 pm UTC

Philosophish wrote:So, my solution:

Everyone has the right to go to the voting machines, but before they get to actually vote, ask them three random questions about any political party and/or it's members. If they answer correctly; they get to vote. If not, too bad; go do some research first.

The 1890's South just called and they'd like you to return their terribly effective ways to purposefully disenfranchise the poor and non-native speakers.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby Philosophish » Thu Sep 29, 2011 8:00 pm UTC

The 1890's South just called and they'd like you to return their terribly effective ways to purposefully disenfranchise the poor and non-native speakers.


Being poor does not relate to having knowledge about politics. And non-native speakers should IMHO accustom to the territory they migrate to ("When in Rome, do as Romans do"). In Holland immigrants are by law required to learn our language and cultural customs. So if you're not a native speaker, you should at first learn the language before you can have a say about the way the country you migrated to runs its business.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby LaserGuy » Thu Sep 29, 2011 8:07 pm UTC

Philosophish wrote:
The 1890's South just called and they'd like you to return their terribly effective ways to purposefully disenfranchise the poor and non-native speakers.


Being poor does not relate to having knowledge about politics. And non-native speakers should IMHO accustom to the territory they migrate to ("When in Rome, do as Romans do"). In Holland immigrants are by law required to learn our language and cultural customs. So if you're not a native speaker, you should at first learn the language before you can have a say about the way the country you migrated to runs its business.


I assume you speak fluent Cherokee?
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Sep 29, 2011 8:30 pm UTC

Or the language of whatever people were there before the Cherokee pushed them out/absorbed them. (It's nice how history has neutral terms for things like "genocide" and "androcide combined with mass rape").
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby omgryebread » Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:29 pm UTC

Qaanol wrote:I also gave an extended hypothetical example where the requirements to be considered mentally fit enough to vote were based on a math test. At first the test was just basic addition of small numbers. Over the course of several years, the test begins to incorporate subtraction, then multiplication, division, adding fractions, basic algebra, and so on in small increments. Each time the new requirements come to a vote, the vast majority of voters—namely the people who can already pass the previous test—can pass the new test, since the changes in material are minor. As a result, each new measure passes easily, and over time the test slowly adds more and more complicated topics, eventually reaching calculus and beyond. At that point, only a small number of citizens could actually vote.

A similar example could be made for voting age. If we raise the voting age by 1 year ever now and then, the number of people who actually lose the right to vote each time will be very small. And besides, they’ll get it back within a year. So each such raise could conceivably garner a large amount of support among current voters. But when the voting age is raised high enough, only a small portion of the population can actually vote, and most people have been disenfranchised.

I would like to add that we allow people to get jobs when they are younger than the current legal voting age. If we are to have a legal voting age at all, and I suspect we must since it is far better that way than having any sort of test to pass, then I think tying the voting age to the working age may be desirable.
This is a nice theoretical argument. But it's also extremely silly, because we know from experience the reverse has happened. In the US, for example, voting rights were initially landed white men, but have now expanded to all citizens above the age of majority.

Philosophish wrote:It's a shame leadership is elected by the majority (read: the majority who can't even spell adequately. I don't know about you guys, but I study at a University in Holland and still 40% of my classmates can't apply correct grammar. It's sad, really).

The thing is, here in Holland parties like that of Geert Wilders get a lot of votes by saying out loud, what people think ("No more foreigners" or "Holland is full" are common) and the more provocative they get, the more voters they get because people repeat what they hear. I shit you not when I say that 70% (at the least!!) of people who vote, could not name the values for which their parties stand, they can't name the (I don't know the english word for it, but let's call it:) second-in-command of their parties and, yes again, most of them can't even spell decently.

I say that NOT everyone should be allowed to vote, simply because most of us are, simply put, morons or at the least not involved enough (though 'morons' covers the general majority quite well) to know what we're dealing with (be honest; how many people do you know that actually back-check any argument they ever make? That alone shows a lot of my point. People, simply put, just like to talk).

I myself am not involved politically and frankly couldn't care less (yes, yes, out of philosophically grounded reasons, don't worry), but I would never critique anything done politically either because of that. I believe that there are men/women better equipped (mentally) to handle the task of leadership than I am myself and I am not afraid to let them handle it.

So, my solution:

Everyone has the right to go to the voting machines, but before they get to actually vote, ask them three random questions about any political party and/or it's members. If they answer correctly; they get to vote. If not, too bad; go do some research first.

You can't form an argument on voting if you don't know what the parties stand for and who they consist of.

Get real, get honest and stay that way. Not everyone can be good at the same things, so why should everyone have a fundamental right to vote? Most of us simply wouldn't do it very well thought through.

Ask yourself this; how many people do you know that quite thoroughly know what their favorite party stands for (except the obvious arguments which made them vote for the party in the first place).

Of all the people I know, right now I would say I know only a handful; some outspoken friends, my businessman of a father and some guys from the Philosophy courses. That's about it, yet almost everyone I know claims to know shit about politics and vote as if their argument would be best for all.

It makes me sad to see that people live with the ideal that we are all equal. We aren't and we shouldn't try to be. Stick to what you're good at, let others do what they do better.
I'd rather let them vote and exclude anyone who says that others are too stupid to vote. You must think people are stupid for holding those positions. So either A) Geert Wilders is stupid, or B) he's lying to get votes.

He's clearly not stupid, since he's a brilliant politician who's shaping debate worldwide. I find it extremely hard to believe he just doesn't believe in those views, either. One does not need to be stupid to be wrong, nor does being smart make one right. There's no good test for aptitude in politics. Shouldn't we require people to understand credit default swaps, given their importance? And hey, US policy in Taiwan is incredibly important, so I think no one in the US who doesn't understand Taiwanese political parties should be able to vote.

Philosophish wrote:Being poor does not relate to having knowledge about politics. And non-native speakers should IMHO accustom to the territory they migrate to ("When in Rome, do as Romans do"). In Holland immigrants are by law required to learn our language and cultural customs. So if you're not a native speaker, you should at first learn the language before you can have a say about the way the country you migrated to runs its business.
I find two things hilarious: Firstly, that you seem to think people are stupid for voting for Wilders, and that you also express something so baldly nativist in your next post. Secondly, and I know it's a commonly used expression, but it's still funny; upper-class Romans would talk to each other in Greek, not Latin. And the eastern half of the empire never stopped using Greek.

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He's Dutch, so I assume he speaks... whatever the hell the Swifterbant culture spoke.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby Azrael » Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:36 pm UTC

Philosophish wrote:
The 1890's South just called and they'd like you to return their terribly effective ways to purposefully disenfranchise the poor and non-native speakers.
Being poor does not relate to having knowledge about politics.
It does, however, correlate with poor education, illiteracy and a lack of time to invest in matters of lower (immediate) importance than the basic necessities. Those things then correlate with lacking an in depth knowledge of politics.

And non-native speakers should IMHO accustom to the territory they migrate to ("When in Rome, do as Romans do"). In Holland immigrants are by law required to learn our language and cultural customs. So if you're not a native speaker, you should at first learn the language before you can have a say about the way the country you migrated to runs its business.
Yeah, that's delightfully jingoistic of you, but Holland's four year old law is an exception, not the rule. And one that becomes far more impractical on a geographical scale that puts the Netherlands at roughly the same size as our 8th smallest state (larger than Maryland, smaller than W. Virginia).

Or, you know, Europe -- as it's less than 1% of the land area of the EU.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby Thesh » Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:43 pm UTC

I agree with the idea that being legally able to enter into a contract means that you should be allowed to vote. Just because you don't follow politics closely doesn't mean that your opinion is invalid, and sometimes issues come up which are simply really important to you even if you care less about the rest of it.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby big boss » Fri Sep 30, 2011 2:34 am UTC

Azrael wrote:
Philosophish wrote:
And non-native speakers should IMHO accustom to the territory they migrate to ("When in Rome, do as Romans do"). In Holland immigrants are by law required to learn our language and cultural customs. So if you're not a native speaker, you should at first learn the language before you can have a say about the way the country you migrated to runs its business.
Yeah, that's delightfully jingoistic of you, but Holland's four year old law is an exception, not the rule. And one that becomes far more impractical on a geographical scale that puts the Netherlands at roughly the same size as our 8th smallest state (larger than Maryland, smaller than W. Virginia).

Or, you know, Europe -- as it's less than 1% of the land area of the EU.


Phiosophish does have a point though even if it does become more impractical on larger scales. I can't help but think of people hating on American tourists visiting their country because the tourists do not know the language/customs/political climate or whatever else it is they are supposed to know about the place they are visiting, then I can only imagine what said people would think or say of said ignorant American tourists moving into their country for good and being given all the rights of a citizen when they don't know anything about the place...
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Fri Sep 30, 2011 3:28 am UTC

What's your point? Sure, people have dumb views on policy. But your right to vote should not hinge on what you plan to vote for.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby Philosophish » Fri Sep 30, 2011 11:57 am UTC

I'd rather let them vote and exclude anyone who says that others are too stupid to vote. You must think people are stupid for holding those positions. So either A) Geert Wilders is stupid, or B) he's lying to get votes.

That is by far not what I said. I did not say a word on what political party is or isn't good, nor did I ever say that Geert Wilders lies to get votes or that he is stupid. You're putting words into my mouth. The entire point of my post was aimed to the voters not the voted.

He's clearly not stupid, since he's a brilliant politician who's shaping debate worldwide. I find it extremely hard to believe he just doesn't believe in those views, either. One does not need to be stupid to be wrong, nor does being smart make one right. There's no good test for aptitude in politics. Shouldn't we require people to understand credit default swaps, given their importance? And hey, US policy in Taiwan is incredibly important, so I think no one in the US who doesn't understand Taiwanese political parties should be able to vote.

I never said he does not believe in what he sells, I merely said that if his (or any) party stands for X specific values, most people who vote, only vote because (they only know) of less than half of them. Take the VVD for instance, a party in Holland that wanted to change the ways taxes were deducted from mortgages. The country went berserk about that proposition and every household was talking about how they didn't want it (every damn birthday, schoolday, workday - all you heard was about that), because the rich people kept more money than the common people (they claimed that they would save a few thousand bucks, while the rich people saved enough to buy a new sportscar). What they didn't include in their brilliant debate was that to save 100.000 bucks instead of 5.000, you had to pay 20 times more taxes in the first place. "Another way to keep the poor poor and the rich richer," they said.

Get the point now? It's never been about the politicians to me. Some of them, like Wilders, are indeed brilliant. Especially Wilders, as he uses clever marketing to get many votes. But that shows how most people vote without very much knowledge on the subject.

Philosophish wrote:
Being poor does not relate to having knowledge about politics. And non-native speakers should IMHO accustom to the territory they migrate to ("When in Rome, do as Romans do"). In Holland immigrants are by law required to learn our language and cultural customs. So if you're not a native speaker, you should at first learn the language before you can have a say about the way the country you migrated to runs its business.

I find two things hilarious: Firstly, that you seem to think people are stupid for voting for Wilders, and that you also express something so baldly nativist in your next post. Secondly, and I know it's a commonly used expression, but it's still funny; upper-class Romans would talk to each other in Greek, not Latin. And the eastern half of the empire never stopped using Greek.

The first part I discussed above, but on the second part: I know, I am Greek. But the upper classed Romans were also required to know Latin, especially as every major research of that time was being written in Latin and all the old scholastics material that was imported from the east (Greece) was being translated into Latin as well (funny note; an amateur book-fanatic who worked in the 'royal' library of Rome was the one who found an old book, written by G. Bruno, that explained a damn modern vision on astronomy. It became a huge deal, while it would have otherwise been thrown away, instead of translated - even though Roman, Bruno wrote it in Greek).
But all I was trying to say was that you can't walk into a group of people who are organized a certain way and start telling them what to do. You don't barge in on a birthday party of people you don't know and start monopolizing the music. You have to get accustomed first, then you can have a say on how the leaders run their country.

LaserGuy wrote:
I assume you speak fluent Cherokee?

He's Dutch, so I assume he speaks... whatever the hell the Swifterbant culture spoke.

As you assumed I spoke Cherokee, I assume you didn't read my post.
To the second reply; I in fact do speak 'fluent' Dutch and I tend to make a big deal out of my spelling ('No shit' you would say XD).
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby Philosophish » Fri Sep 30, 2011 12:02 pm UTC

And non-native speakers should IMHO accustom to the territory they migrate to ("When in Rome, do as Romans do"). In Holland immigrants are by law required to learn our language and cultural customs. So if you're not a native speaker, you should at first learn the language before you can have a say about the way the country you migrated to runs its business.
Yeah, that's delightfully jingoistic of you, but Holland's four year old law is an exception, not the rule. And one that becomes far more impractical on a geographical scale that puts the Netherlands at roughly the same size as our 8th smallest state (larger than Maryland, smaller than W. Virginia).

Or, you know, Europe -- as it's less than 1% of the land area of the EU.

how delightfully primitive of you. "My dick is bigger than yours" is basically what you just said. Holland is small, yes. What's your point?

And why would it become impractical? And would that impracticality weigh up against the benefits? If I would run a country, I expect immigrants to learn about it. You can't barge in here, and start reforming the place into using your language.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby Azrael » Fri Sep 30, 2011 12:43 pm UTC

Philosophish wrote:how delightfully primitive of you. "My dick is bigger than yours" is basically what you just said. Holland is small, yes. What's your point?

And why would it become impractical? And would that impracticality weigh up against the benefits? If I would run a country, I expect immigrants to learn about it. You can't barge in here, and start reforming the place into using your language.
No, that's not what I said. What I did say is that you're thinking on a tiny, little regional scale, and trying to apply the micro-scale to the macro -- the rest of the world doesn't share the 'ability' to throw up such tightly-zoned walls.

A policy that requires you to assimilate to cultural subset on the scale of a country the size of the Netherlands in order to vote inherently divides larger units to an impractical level. If Maryland had such a test about Maryland in order to vote and Oregon had a different one, you've established a system where voting on nation-wide matters (i.e. President) invalidates the justification for the regional tests. While the US is fairly homogenous, China and Russia tend to be less so, making the problem either more severe or the concept more flawed.

Then there's the EU, probably the largest conglomeration of cultures and languages-- and is just an added level of republic-style governance. If I have to pass the Dutch test to affect matters in Netherlands, then the entire concept of the EU is either torn asunder or the Dutch policy's rational is seriously questioned.

Better yet, unless you have an example of a immigrant-led voter referendum to change a country's language, your particular example is unsupported fear mongering. Particularly considering that your country has <20% non-ethic Dutch and no other block of common-language speakers larger than single digit percentages.

The especially jingoistic part is the implication that people from outside a small country can't have good ideas that would benefit that country, or that a cultural test or language barrier really effects character.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby Philosophish » Fri Sep 30, 2011 12:53 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:
Philosophish wrote:how delightfully primitive of you. "My dick is bigger than yours" is basically what you just said. Holland is small, yes. What's your point?

And why would it become impractical? And would that impracticality weigh up against the benefits? If I would run a country, I expect immigrants to learn about it. You can't barge in here, and start reforming the place into using your language.
No, that's not what I said. What I did say is that you're thinking on a tiny, little regional scale, and trying to apply the micro-scale to the macro -- the rest of the world doesn't share the 'ability' to throw up such tightly-zoned walls.

[...]

The especially jingoistic part is the implication that people from outside a small country can't have good ideas that would benefit that country, or that a cultural test or language barrier really effects character.


You strike a fair point.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby Zamfir » Fri Sep 30, 2011 2:40 pm UTC

Azrael, I am not quite following your argument. Why should a smaller country care much whether its policies are applicable on a larger scale? Your post reads as if single polities of the size of the US are unavoidable, or universally desirable. While the same argument can just as well imply that many large polities should devolve more power to smaller regions, including possibly immigration policies.

The USSR after all broke apart completely, and the remaining Russian federation still contains regions and groups that would like more devolvement of power or even independence. China as well has regions and cultural groups (some of them large by nearly any standard) that wouldn't mind more local power, including local control on immigration. Even Scotland has a significant amount of support for independence.

The concept of the EU is hardly to turn Europe into a US-style federation with sovereignity at the federal level. Everyone in Europe has to pass to nationally-determined tests to get citizenship of a different country, and in most (perhaps all) countries foreign citizens from within the EU do not get full voting rights. That's not some weird Dutch policy, it's how the EU has always operated and is expected to keep operating for the overseeable future.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby Azrael » Fri Sep 30, 2011 3:00 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:Azrael, I am not quite following your argument. Why should a smaller country care much whether its policies are applicable on a larger scale? Your post reads as if single polities of the size of the US are unavoidable, or universally desirable.
I'm certainly not trying to make any such argument.

However, a smaller country can't hold up their policy as a universal truth when the justification behind that policy falls apart so quickly when looked at from the perspective of either larger political entities, or even the treaty organizations they're already members of. The mentality that "you can only effect matters in my cultural group if you've passed our tests" is flawed when your cultural group is either part of a federation, or has entered into a treaty organization that allows any external effects at all.

Pushes for greater local autonomy or independence of absorbed nations is a separate issue. "We, who live here, want to control local matters rather than being controlled from outside" is drastically different from "We, who live here, do not want to allow you, who now lives here, to have any voice in local matters until you've proven yourself sufficiently like us".
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby Zamfir » Fri Sep 30, 2011 3:13 pm UTC

I am still missing something. Pretty every country in the world has similar requirements to be eligible for citizenship. Basic mastery of the (or a) local language, some provable understanding of local culture, usually several years of residence. Basically, some limited amount of assimilation to local social practices.

You appear to be saying that small countries should not have such policies, only large countries like the US, or a federalized EU. Or do you mean that no countries should have such policies, that the US should abolish them too?
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby Azrael » Fri Sep 30, 2011 3:22 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:You appear to be saying that small countries should not have such policies, only large countries ...

I honestly can't imagine how I've given that impression.

Things that work for small areas and condensed cultural groups don't necessarily apply, nor are they necessarily practical, on the macro scale. I'm not going to fault a country's citizenship tests unless their proponents offer them up as a universal truth.

... Or if those tests unnecessarily burden the poor. Or if someone tries to use the existence of a citizenship test to help them to justify denying a citizen's voting rights, which is where this all started with the political poll tests.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby Zamfir » Fri Sep 30, 2011 3:57 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:Things that work for small areas and condensed cultural groups don't necessarily apply, nor are they necessarily practical, on the macro scale..

This is the part that confuses me. Sure, there are policies that don't work on every scale. But how is this one of them? Dutch citizenship requirements are fairly similar to those of the US. I've understood that it's somewhat more difficult to get exemptions for naturalization tests in the US, but I don't know enough details to judge that. Much smaller countries have similar policies as well.

That strongly suggests that this particular aspect does works pretty much the same for different scales.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby Dark567 » Sat Oct 01, 2011 10:46 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:The concept of the EU is hardly to turn Europe into a US-style federation with sovereignity at the federal level.
The original concept of the US was hardly to turn the US into a US-style federation with sovereignty at the federal level... for what its worth.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby omgryebread » Sun Oct 02, 2011 1:09 am UTC

Dark567 wrote:
Zamfir wrote:The concept of the EU is hardly to turn Europe into a US-style federation with sovereignity at the federal level.
The original concept of the US was hardly to turn the US into a US-style federation with sovereignty at the federal level... for what its worth.
Not worth much, really. The EU consists of fully sovereign states with their own military, own ability to gather taxes, etc. The EU itself doesn't have a ton of responsibilities, really.

Unlike the US government under the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, which was responsible for foreign relations and maintaining a military. It's trying to split sovereignty that screwed the Perpetual Union and forced the Constitutional Convention. The EU is on a much better path to preserve national sovereignty.
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby jules.LT » Tue Oct 04, 2011 10:40 am UTC

omgryebread wrote:The EU is on a much better path to preserve national sovereignty.

For a given value of "better".
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Re: Who should have the right to vote?

Postby Sweeney_Todd » Tue Oct 04, 2011 9:35 pm UTC

If you live in a country, and are taxed in some way by the government, then you should have the right to vote. Otherwise, it's taxation without representation.
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