December 28, 2008

Logical Constitutional Reform - Universal Suffrage

Many countries claim to have granted universal suffrage, but none have. Even in the United States, there are three ways in which the right to vote can and should be extended.

1) Allow those in jail to vote. This improves oversight by politicians of the treatment of prisoners. It helps with the reintegration of convicts into society, rather than further separating them. And it removes the ability of politically-minded judges to disenfranchise the poor by jailing them.

2) Allow anyone living in the country to vote. New Zealand, for example, allows all permanent residents to vote in all elections. Some other countries or individual provinces or states allow non-citizen residents to vote in municipal and other subnational elections. The slogan "No taxation without representation" sounds stupid to anyone who has legally lived and worked and built a business for decades in the United States, paying property taxes and municipal taxes and school taxes and state taxes and federal taxes and employment taxes, and yet is not allowed to vote at any level. (And I speak as someone who is in that position, and unable to get a Green Card, let alone citizenship.)

3) Abolish the minimum voting age. It isn't "universal" if 17-year-olds can't vote. Why not open registration up to any child that is interested in voting and able to register and vote unassisted? They will tend to vote the same as their parents, but they will be able to vent teenage dissatisfactions and frustrations, implement cultural shifts, and make politicians more responsive to issues of education and poverty.

Universal suffrage. Everyone says how wonderful it is. It would be nice if someone actually tried it.

No comments: