Two Arguments for Child Enfranchisement



The right to vote is fundamental to democratic citizenship; it is one of the most important badges of political and legal equality. However, we deny it to children, generally without discussion. After exploring conceptions of ‘political capacity’, I launch two arguments. The first is the Symmetry Argument: whatever level of capacity we use for the disenfranchisement of children should be used in symmetrical fashion to disenfranchise the elderly. The second is the Argument from Domains: if we attribute responsibility to children in the legal domain, we should also attribute it to them in the political domain. If we do not actually disenfranchise the elderly, we must find a good reason why we displace that symmetry. I discuss such objections and show why they can be refuted or disregarded.