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Unpublished Paper
Democratic Inclusion, Cognitive Development, and the Age of Electoral Majority
ExpressO (2011)
  • Vivian E. Hamilton, College of William and Mary
Who should vote in the modern democratic state? The question cuts to the core of democratic government. For centuries, voting was a privilege limited to few, but democratic norms now require that electoral inclusion be presumed, and exclusion justified. Accordingly, few exclusionary rules remain. Among them are citizenship, law-abidingness, and minimum age requirements. The last of these, all but ignored by legal and political theorists, is this Article’s focus. The age of electoral majority has declined over time and across the globe. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the average voting age worldwide was just under twenty-four; today, it is just over seventeen. More than a dozen nations have recently lowered local, state, or national voting ages to sixteen. Others, including Australia and the U.K., are seriously considering doing the same. Yet the United States, which holds itself out as a beacon of democratic participation, is not currently considering the electoral inclusion of some cohort of their younger citizens. For a number of compelling reasons, it should be.
  • Voting,
  • Voting Age,
  • Democracy Theory,
  • Cognitive Development
Publication Date
August 19, 2011
Citation Information
Vivian E. Hamilton. "Democratic Inclusion, Cognitive Development, and the Age of Electoral Majority" ExpressO (2011)
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