Taking Votes Seriously: How Age Qualifications Are To Be Reexamined

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An issue of considerable complexity and importance has been generally ignored: minimum age qualifications. The right to vote as a fundamental right is subject to strict scrutiny. These qualifications, which deny the vote to nearly a quarter of the population in the United States, must be justified as a matter of law and justice. Intuition supplies a number of potential justifications: (a lack of) intelligence, maturity, and independence. That intuition is strongly held, but empirically dubious. It is unfortunate that these qualifications have existed for so long on intuition alone. Only when other such intuitions were challenged legally were some of the worst examples of discrimination undone - woman's suffrage being the closest analogue (though only politically). The following arguments are considered and rejected: (1) qualifications are immune from equal protection challenges, (2) age, itself, as a state interest, (3) maturity in voters as necessary under strict scrutiny analysis, (4) intelligence in voters as necessary, (5) independence in voters as necessary, and (6) age qualifications as necessary to avoid other pernicious discrimination.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Jason Ratigan | Attorney Advertising

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