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Think Tank: Force Young People To Vote; Fine Them If They Don’t

Scary idea of the day:

A London-based think tank argues that young people should be forced to vote, or fined if they don’t. The idea aims to create a lifelong habit, the Institute for Public Policy Research stated.

This trial balloon, by the way, is floated in the name of tackling “political inequality” and “empowering young voters.”

The think tank report recommends compelling first-time voters to turn out to vote, that is those who recently became old enough to vote.

“Young voters would be required go to the polling station to vote and fined if they didn’t,” the think tank states. “But they would be given a ‘none of the above’ option so they were not forced to vote for a party.”

Oh, well, in that case … NOT!

The think tank, which describes itself as aiming to “assist all those who want to create a society where every citizen lives a decent and fulfilled life, in reciprocal relationships with the people they care about,” (insert violins playing in the background here) is quite insistent this strategy is a winner.

“Unequal turnout matters because it gives well-off and older voters disproportionate influence at the ballot box and reduces the incentives for governments to respond to the interests of non-voting groups,” bemoaned Guy Lodge, the group’s associate director.

“There are many other things that young people are required to do, not the least of which is go to school. Adding just one more small task to this list would not represent an undue burden, and it could well help to reinvigorate democracy. It would make politicians target first-time voters like never before and give young voters the potential for far greater political power.”

There are so many problems with this argument.

For one, nothing is stopping these little buggers from voting once they are of legal age. If they are so worried about political inequity, let them do something about it themselves, let’s not hand-walk them to the ballot box. But if we do, maybe we can spoon-feed them some applesauce while we’re at it.

Besides, do we really want politicians pandering to 18-year-olds? Oh wait, scratch that – the November 2012 presidential election proved that out to be quite effective.

But the notion that forcing students to do something will empower them actually contradicts itself.

Nevertheless, this idea could pick up steam on our side of the pond considering that young people can take a heap of credit for electing President Barack Obama last November. We can see that whole “we force them to go to school, why not force them to vote” mentality fitting in quite well among the segment of the population here who also believe that the government should pretty much do everything for Americans (legal or not), God forbid they actually are in want of anything.

Let’s hope this idea dies a quick and silent death. Things are bad enough for thinking people at the ballot box right now as it is.

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