Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Voting at 14 . . .

Tonight was a board meeting night with students from the Junior High sharing their community project to identify and document local historic districts. We also had a presentation on the status of our Moodle pilot and our online and blended learning opportunities. We have a great school board. They focus on policy, operate collaboratively, and care about our students and staff.

With this as a background I found the proposal to allow 14 year olds to vote in school board elections interesting. Check this short Education Week article on allowing students to vote for school board members in our state. It is sponsored by Senator Scott White from Seattle. Below, is the description in the Bill Digest, SB 5621.

SB 5621 - DIGEST
Allows students, having attained the age of fourteen as of the date of the election, to vote in school board elections for the district in which they are enrolled and in good standing.

Short and to the point unlike many of the other bills in Olympia. With the fiscal issues faced by the legislators I don’t believe that this bill has much urgency or support, but it is interesting to think about. I understand that board members make decisions that impact students, but providing 14 year olds with the ability to vote for them is a struggle for me. Would they be smart voters?

Anyone care to share your thoughts about this possibility?


Jonathan said...

I think 14 year olds should have a vote in all elections, but it should just be a quarter vote. They will be energized and involved, and I believe it will serve to mobilize others as well. Most of our elections have very little involvement, and by engaging as many citizens as possible we have the best chance to protect our democracy.

Scott Mitchell said...

"Would they be smart voters?" My question is how smart are the current voters? I think many people vote with their gut feeling, not based on much of anything. So if anything we may be lucky to have some voters that feel the direct affect of the decisions being made, have say in the process.

With that said though, I think that there is a lot of civic responsibility that goes along with voting and I am not sure that 14 year olds are at a point in their lives to take this duty seriously, I know I was not at that age.

C.H. said...
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C.H. said...

The problem with allowing teens to vote at age 14 is that they are still heavily influenced by the political beliefs of their parents. In most cases, they would vote the same way their parents do. Or, they would just have their parents vote for them due to lack of interest. Ultimately, 14-year-olds or even 16-year-olds haven't learned to be critical and independent in their thinking. You might as well give families with kids a few extra votes; families without kids would be underrepresented.