Voting at 16: Turnout and the quality of vote choice

  • Wagner M
  • Johann D
  • Kritzinger S
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Abstract

Critics of giving citizens under 18 the right to vote argue that such teenagers lack the ability and motivation to participate effectively in elections. If this argument is true, lowering the voting age would have negative consequences for the quality of democracy. We test the argument using survey data from Austria, the only European country with a voting age of 16 in nation-wide elections. While the turnout levels of young people under 18 are relatively low, their failure to vote cannot be explained by a lower ability or motivation to participate. In addition, the quality of these citizens' choices is similar to that of older voters, so they do cast votes in ways that enable their interests to be represented equally well. These results are encouraging for supporters of a lower voting age. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Input legitimacy
  • Political participation
  • Teenage vote
  • Turnout
  • Voting age

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Authors

  • Markus Wagner

  • David Johann

  • Sylvia Kritzinger

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