While drafting the constitution of the Terrestric Republic I came to the realization that I don’t know how to determine whether any given citizen is eligible to vote in elections or not. Using age only works when there are only humans to consider because our minds generally all develop at a similar pace. However, in the 22nd century Terra is inhabited by persons of many different species from different planets, as well as sentient robots with full citizen rights.
While a 3-year-old human can be confidently said to be too young to make substantial political decisions and a 30-year-old human is clearly old enough, an alien species may still be in its larva stage of development at the age of 30 Earth years while another might already be fully adult at just 3, so a universal minimum age for all citizens would not work. Similarly, a species may not develop on a more or less fixed timeline at all and thus have no concept of physical age as an indicator of matureness. While they generally do get more mature as time goes on, each individual’s life cycle is so differently paced that any attempt at setting a ‘legal age’ becomes laughable.
The age problem is not as severe for robots and sentient AIs. It currently stands that machines have to take a test of citizenship like any foreigner would, essentially to prove that they are “sentient enough” to be recognized as an independent person, and since mechanical creatures don’t develop like biological creatures they can simply be given full voting rights as soon as they become citizens. Immigrants from other stars obviously also have to take such tests before they are able to vote, but once they’re citizens their children are automatically granted Terrestric citizenship at birth.
One idea I had was that the Terrestric government could simply look at the extraterrestrials’ home worlds and copy their respective voting laws, but I see several problems with that approach:
- Parts of Terra’s laws would essentially be written by foreign nations’ governments, and Terra would just have to trust them to not do anything mischievous with that power.
- Some alien species originate on planets that are divided into several countries, each governed by a different entity and with different voting laws.
- Some alien species originate on planets that aren’t ruled democratically and thus have no native voting laws, or they don’t have any definite known origins at all and presently only live as minorities on other planets.
My question is: How can the government of the Terrestric Republic decide as fairly and objectively as possible when each and every citizen regardless of species becomes eligible to vote in elections without being seen as discriminatory? I’ve been trying to avoid clichés like voting rights based on IQ because I don’t want to needlessly restrict access to voting – having to register manually is bad enough already – but I fear something like that might be the only feasible option.