Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Condorcet Wants Kids To Vote

I've been reading the discussion following Jonathan Bernstein's "Kids Vote" proposal with some interest. Extending the voting age downward by at least a couple years strikes me as a good idea.

I think this despite accepting a view of democracy that Bernstein sees as most opposed to the Kids Vote proposal -- the view that "justifies democracy on the basis of an informed individuals, thinking for themselves, being the best way to make good decisions about public policy." If you think kids are just barely better than random in determining who should rule, adding their votes to the system will push things in the right direction overall. Maybe I'm misunderstanding what he means by 'informed', but large numbers of barely informed people can systematically contribute to good public policy if each is right 51% of the time in two-way choices. And then their small but positive level of information is actually producing good public policy. (This sort of reasoning, where larger numbers of barely informed people end up increasing the probability of good decisions, is the kind employed in Condorcet's Jury Theorem.)
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