Paine appeared to believe in Rousseau's postulate of the 'Noble savage', and advocated the extension of voting to everyone over a given age. Which is where the major problem with Democracy lies. We humans aren't all equal. As I have probably posted before, only 15% of a given human population can be described as fully self aware all the time, and thus cognisant of the effects of their choices. Most people aren't. We do things like substitute behaviour response loops or opinions for thought, and often can't tell the difference. Democracy needs people capable of thinking clearly to work effectively.
Longrider had a bitch about a silly Grauniad posted proposal to give two votes to pregnant women, and I'm inclined to agree. So I posted the following comment;
I’m increasingly of the opinion that the franchise should only be extended to those who can pass a voter comprehension test. Say a simple paragraph and ten related questions, in English (Or the host language of your country), to be completed when you turn up to vote. You pass, your vote counts. You don’t, it doesn’t. Simple.Or of course be 'bovvered' to turn up to vote. This way those who want the franchise and are capable of participating can do so. Such a scheme may result in fewer votes actually counting, but there are advantages to that, too.
This way the opportunity to vote could be safely offered to 16 year olds who have sufficient comprehension skills to understand some of the issues.