94 Nw. U. L. Rev. 503 (1999-2000)
Should Parents Be Given Extra Votes on Account of Their Children: Toward a Conversational Understanding of American Democracy

handle is hein.journals/illlr94 and id is 513 raw text is: Copyright 2000 by Northwestm Univerty School of Law                         Pined in U.S.A.
Norhwernr University Law R-view                                            Vol. 94, No. 2
SHOULD PARENTS BE GIVEN EXTRA VOTES ON
ACCOUNT OF THEIR CHILDREN?: TOWARD A
CONVERSATIONAL UNDERSTANDING OF
AMERICAN DEMOCRACY
Robert W. Bennett*
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Calvin and Hobbesr  1986 Watterson.
Reprinted with permission of Universal Press Syndicate. All rights reserved.
I. INTRODUCTION
Approximately one quarter of the American citizens who are resident
in the United States-some sixty-two million people-are children under
eighteen years of age1 who are not allowed to vote for any public officials.2
Professor of Law, Northwestern University School of Law. I received helpful commaents on ear-
lier drafts of this Article from Bob Burns, Gary Lawson, Jane Rutherford, Henry Smith, Mel Durchslag,
Daphne Barak-Erez, and Barry Friedman. In addition to similar comments, I am especially grateful to
Judson Miner for patiently helping me work my way through some of the intricacies of apportionment
law and practice. I am also grateful to Daniel Polsby for finding the relevant Calvin and H-obbes piece.
Finally, I must express special thanks to Ricardo Delfin of the Northwestern Law School class of 2000
for his splendid research assistance.
INo official count of this population is made. I have extrapolated from 1996 mid-census Census
Bureau figures, which show approximately 26% of the entire resident population of 265,000,000-in-
cluding noncitizens-as under the age of 18, as well as a noncitizen adult population of 13,000,000. See
U.S. BUREAU OF THE CENSUS, STATISTICAL ABSTRACT OF THE UNITED STATES: 1997, at tl.14 (117th
ed. 1997) [hereinafter STATISTICAL ABSTRAC]; U.S. BUREAU OF THE CENSUS, PERtCENT OF
POPULATION VOTING BY CITIZENSHIP STATUS AN4D SELECTED DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS:
NOVEMBER 1994, at tbl.3, <http'.//www.census.gov/poplation/socdemo/votngprofilelptable3.txt>
(visited on Sept. 3, 1999) (reporting that as of September 1996, the U.S. adult noncitizen population was
13,007,000). In any event, if the number of residnt citizen children ineligible to vote were added to the
total eligible population, the children would represent a very substantial fraction of the whole.
2 The Twenty-Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution now forbids withholding the vote
Lon account of age from those 18 and older. U.S. CONST. amend. XXVI. Presumably states remain
free to lower the age of suffirage below 18, but as of 1988 at least, no state had done so. See Thompson
v. Oklahoma, 487 U.S. 815, 839-40 (1988). The state determinations then govern for state and many
local elections, and for federal elections as well. See U.S. CONSTI. art. I,  2; U.S. CONSTI. art. II,  1, cI.
2; U.S. CONST. amend. XVII. There may be elections for some local bodies (like school boards or park

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