The Loch Ness Monster, Haggis, and a Lower Voting Age: What America Can Learn from Scotland

51 Pages Posted: 5 Jan 2020 Last revised: 3 Jun 2020

See all articles by Joshua A. Douglas

Joshua A. Douglas

University of Kentucky - College of Law

Date Written: May 19, 2020

Abstract

This Article, prepared for an American University Law Review
symposium, explores what the United States can learn from Scotland’s experience
in lowering the voting age to sixteen. The minimum voting age in American
elections seems firmly entrenched at eighteen, based in part on the Twenty-Sixth
Amendment, which prohibits states from denying the right to vote to anyone aged
eighteen or older. Yet the conversation about lowering the voting age to sixteen,
at least for local elections, has gained steam in recent years. The debate in
America, however, is nascent compared to the progress in Scotland, which
lowered the voting age to sixteen for its Independence Referendum in 2014 and
for all Scottish elections in 2015. Using original research from interviews I
conducted in Scotland, this Article offers three main takeaways for American
jurisdictions considering this reform: the Scottish experience in lowering the
voting age has been mostly successful because advocates (1) went into schools to
register students to vote and encourage them to participate; (2) offered
meaningful civics education, though that instruction was somewhat uneven
across the country; and (3) created a bipartisan coalition of policymakers who
supported the change. As the debate on the voting age in the United States
expands, advocates should draw upon these lessons from Scotland.

Keywords: voting rights, election law, voting, election, voting age, lower voting age, scotland, 26th amendment

Suggested Citation

Douglas, Joshua, The Loch Ness Monster, Haggis, and a Lower Voting Age: What America Can Learn from Scotland (May 19, 2020). American University Law Review, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3503437

Joshua Douglas (Contact Author)

University of Kentucky - College of Law ( email )

620 S. Limestone Street
Lexington, KY 40506-0048
United States

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