Back to previous page


Should the votes of the young count more than the votes of the old?

By Ezra Klein,

Here’s your out-of-the-box policy idea for the day:

America should implement weighted voting to make voting more objective and fair, and give the young more power, because the consequences of political decisions will affect them the longest. Weighted voting would restore power to twenty and thirty year olds, where it resided before the advent of medical science. With the aid of computers, it would be easy to give everyone a Voting Score, just like we all have a credit score.

If your response to this is that it’s crazy and offensive, that all American adults are equal and so is their vote, you might want to familiarize yourself with the U.S. Senate, where a Wyoming resident’s vote is worth almost 70 times as much as a Californian’s, or the electoral college, where the presidency could be won by a candidate who loses the popular vote 4:1.

All of which is to say, we already reweight voting in this country. But we do it to give residents from small states more power. Does that really make more sense than reweighting by age, education, race, income or some other demographic characteristic?

Update, 3:15 p.m.: Some people seem to think I'm advocating reweighting votes by age. I'm not. I'm pointing out that weighting votes by state, which is what we currently do, doesn't make any more sense. It was an important political compromise that helped coax concerned states into the union, but a lot of time has passed since then, and now it's an anachronism that unwisely gives a resident of Montana a more powerful vote than a resident of Michigan. I'm for unweighting votes entirely, and anyone who feels themselves getting angry at the idea of tilting democracy toward the young or the college-educated other group should ask themselves whether they aren't, also.

© The Washington Post Company