Editorials

Should juveniles vote on school board members?

Sen. Scott White of Seattle proposes lowering the voting age for school board elections to 14.

He and backers of his proposal, including the blog site where the idea was first thought up, say it would be a matter of fairness -- giving the students a say over who has a "say" over them.

White is a Democrat, new to the state Senate, and that fact alone has drawn considerable negative response from many anonymous readers of The (Tacoma) News Tribune's website.

There is some logic to the idea of giving the vote to students who are in school and who have good grades and are behaving themselves. Those requirements are in his proposal.

There also is logic to the arguments that because youngsters aren't old enough to drive until they're 16, or join the military without their parents' consent, or vote in any other election, that this is just a "feel good" move that was not very well thought out.

A third possible way, instead of a simple yes or no to the idea, might be to give students an advisory vote that would be counted but would not count.

Some of the youthful backers of the proposal say if enacted, it might get students more actively involved in public issues and make lifelong voters out of them.

That might be worthwhile.

But according to Secretary of State Sam Reed's office, Washington had an 84.61 percent voter turnout for the 2008 general election. That was astoundingly high.

It seems like waiting a few years for the vote hasn't quenched the appetite for most Washingtonians to be heard at election time.

  Comments