Should The Voting Age Be Lowered To 16?
Many people say young people's voice need to be heard. And voting is a great way to do this. But would lowering the age to 16 be the right way to go? Say what you think below!
Please cast your vote after you've read the arguments.
You can also add to the debate by leaving a comment at the end of the page.
They deserve to have a say.
If they are now in a responsible stage of their life, they deserve a say on who will decide how their schools will be run through elections!
If a sixteen year old can join the Arm forces, then the right to vote should be allowed.
If the voting age is lowered to 16, then politics could become a GCSE course, meaning they will be fully prepared at an early date, ready for an election if they are 16 for example.
They have really only just got out to the world and to their 'responsible stage'. They need some time to know how its run now
and if it should be different or be changed. They can't just vote or it won't come fair as they may not know how the world is being run by government at this time.
Even if they are able to join the armed forces, its a voluntery job. You do not need a certain responsibility to join the forces. Its to simply serve your country.
Starting a class around this may disrupt education of other important subjects they have/choose to do. Its a whole other section of learning and one which is unnecessary to have on your shoulders at the same time as GCSE time.
YES, give them the rights they deserve!
yes, I do understand that sixteen year olds are you and some may be irresponsible but that shouldn't determine why other 16 year olds cant vote, there should be a voting list of which 16 year olds are mature and responsible enough to vote there are plenty of other things they are aloud to do so why jepordise how this country is ran by not letting 16 year olds be able to vote, huh?
This isn't just affecting you guys because you are old enough to vote. David Cameron has ruined this country and let the people of Britain down if we where aloud to vote then we could of changed that, for the better of Britain and the folks that live here!
Thank you for reading my viewpoint.
First of all, your proposed scheme here poses a practicality problem: who or what, will be deciding on the maturity of 16 years-old voters? How would "maturity" be measured? Through tests?
If we do let a group of 16 years old vote, and we ban another group of 16 years old from voting, then the problem of injustice will arise. Protests are likely to be sparked.
From your argument, it can be seen that your only reason for lowering the voting age to 16 is that "David Cameron ruined this country". But it is unfair, if not dangerous, to damage existing voting system and democracy to exercise one group's political views.
It would get younger people interested in politics
The numbers of young people's interest is ridiculously low. How should we address this? One way would be to allow younger people the vote, as it would encourage them to investigate further into how it all works. Some may not be interested at all, thats fine. But should we really obstruct the opportunities for those interested in learning more? I think it is important for young people to be interested in politics as will affect them hugely at some point in their lives, therefore we should offer 16s and over the vote.
I agree that younger people need to be interested in politics. However, to give them the vote before they are educated and experienced enough to make truly informed decisions would be a disaster.
(Speaking mainly from a U.S. standpoint): Many young people do not even know the history of their own country, let alone the history of other countries. They do not understand the different systems of government in the world and the history of those governments, some of which led to the deaths of millions of people! I hear many young people say history is "irrelevant and meaningless", but nothing could be further from the truth! To paraphrase, "Those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it" could well apply to many young people today, as well as some older people, who have not bothered to learn history, or learn the Constitution, or learn about particular issues. People, these things CAN be a matter of life and death - the difference between being free or being a slave, between living under a freely elected leader or dying in a camp under a dictator!
If young people want to get involved in politics, they should start at a local level as a volunteer. In the meantime, get educated and experienced before taking the important step of voting!
It is argued that the voting age should be reduced to provide consistency between the age a person can vote; with the age they can leave school; marry; have children; leave home; pay taxes; work full time; and join the armed forces.
and also at the age of 16 you can choose to have sex it is legal to have sex at 16 which is a big responsibility in its self also as you can have sex you can choose whether to have a baby which would make you a parent and on all the medicines and food if you are over 10/13 you are classed as a adult so why can’t they have the opportunity to vote?
Can you please specify these qualities that at 16 year old lacks.
It is important to note that in England a 16-year-old can only marry or leave home with their parents’ permission. A 16-year-old also cannot buy alcohol, buy cigarettes, or drive a car. You cannot argue on the grounds of ‘consistency’ without also arguing to lower the legal age for these activities as well.
Furthermore how is it argued or by whom? by you? painstakingly not you create a logical fallacy by saying because 16 year olds do this they should be able to do that. My 12 year old nephew can run does that mean he should be able to participate in a marathon? obviously not because he lacks certain qualities that it takes to run a marathon just like 16 year olds lack certain qualities to vote at 16
Secondly, it is argued that not allowing 16 and 17 year-olds the vote further adds to young people’s feelings of political alienation and suggests that the views of 16 and 17-year olds are not valid.
"The exclusion of 16 and 17 year olds from elections is fuelling the disengagement of 18-24 year olds. The longer young people are denied involvement in the formal democratic process, the less chance there is of engaging them ever. There is no evidence to suggest that once 18, young people are likely to become more engaged." - Electoral Reform Society
Allowing young people the vote will not result in them suddenly taking an interest in political parties and elections. On the whole, young people are concerned with specific causes and issues and are, therefore, politically active in other ways, e.g. going on protests, signing petitions, etc. I have never heard any of my friends say that there feelings are being hurt by political alienation honestly more often than not we hear 16-17 year olds complaining about everything imaginable except for when it comes to politics and has the ERS run a survey or questionnaire saying that "the exclusion of 16 and 17 year olds from elections is fueling the disengagement of 18-24 year olds and furthermore I find that if 18-24 yr olds wanted to be politically involved they would be.
Thirdly, due to the introduction of citizenship classes into the national curriculum, 16-year-olds are now in a better position than ever to make an informed decision at elections.
"In 2002, Citizenship was introduced as a compulsory subject as part of the English National Curriculum. At Key Stage 3 young people are taught about the electoral system and the importance of voting, central and local government, and the key characteristics of parliamentary and other forms of government. At Key Stage 4 they explore the actions citizens can take in democratic and electoral processes to influence decisions locally, nationally and beyond the operation of parliamentary democracy within the UK, and of other forms of government, both democratic and non-democratic, beyond the UK. Whilst young people are some of the only citizens to be educated about the voting system, they are denied the right to use this knowledge for at least two further years and anywhere up to seven years." - Electoral Reform Society
However, most children of this age are not likely to have found their own ideological positioning. They are likely to be heavily influenced by the beliefs of their teachers and parents, effectively offering these groups extra votes. and furthermore most teens don't even care about the voting system they just view it as another subject.
A further argument in favour of reducing the voting age is that reducing the voting age will increase turnout. This is because people are more likely to maintain the habit of voting throughout their lives if they start at a younger age.
At present, a child will usually leave school at 16. They are leaving an environment where political issues can be discussed and debated, increasing their interest in politics. Once they have left school, they may have to wait up to 8 years before they have their first opportunity to vote at a general election. By this time, they have lost interest and are less likely to vote.
The youngest age group has always provided the lowest turnout at elections. Reducing the voting age will further reduce the national average turnout for elections.
This matters because we don't want to look bad to other contries.
Not all 30-year-olds have extensive knowledge of politics. As a 16-year-old I knew an extensive amount about each of the parties and their policies; I even knew a few hundred politicians and knew what they stood for.
I will not respect any law if nobody in government will represent me whilst making it.
If 16 year olds can work and pay taxes they should be allowed to choose who governs and spends their tax money on their behalf.
Firstly, 16 year olds shouldn't be paying taxes.
You are one of the lucky few who, at the age of 16, knew what you were talking about. Most 16 year olds don't. Democracy is about majoritative rule. If most 16 year olds are uninformed and don't particularly understand or care about the results of elections, then they shouldn't get the vote.
"The rights based argument maintains that as voting is the central way in which citizens express their judgement and support of government policy, it is only fair that those who are affected by major government decisions are given the opportunity to express their opinions via the ballot box. The most common examples of these are the responsibilities of joining the armed forces, raising a family and paying tax, the argument being that if you can die for your country, get married and pay tax, you should have the right to indicate your feelings to the government." - Electoral Reform Society
Your voice is your vote- how can people expect the needs of under 18s to be met if their is no incentive (ie votes for the parties that help them)
It is a good argument. However, statistically, most 16 year olds are not in the army (as are most adults) and they are not married and/or raising a family. Most of them are also uninformed and generally ambivalent toward the politics, so would not vote anyway
Yes, on the face of it, if 16 year olds can "die for their country" and "get married and pay tax", they should also be allowed to vote. Yet, how informed are their decisions in dying for their country? In getting married and raising a family? Not very. So it would be with the lowering of the voting age. So rather than informing people, we should oppress this group because we don't like them.
Effected be the policy makers decisions
It is clear that in the modern day a sixteen year old is far more knowledgeable than the ones in the times of the past when such laws differentiating minors and adults were made. With the growing awareness of the society and the daily occurances we observe the sixteen year olds have the ability to understand politics and its effect on their lives. Because noone can deny that what ever happens as a result of the elections the sixteen year olds also are effected by the policies of the election winners. Therefore they must be given the right to be part of the decision making process by being included in the category of those people who chose the leaders who will be given the duty to shape their society and in the process effect their lives.
The average 16 year old in this country seems completely uninterested in politics and relatively unaware of its significance. Whilst they may realise that whatever happens has an effect on them and their lives, and may loosely follow the goings on of the world, they are not doing so to the point where they have warranted a vote. Do you really want uninformed children deciding the next Government?
It is true that many 16 year olds are informed, clever, interested and desperate to make changes. However, these 16/17 year olds are a minority in this.
One of the fundamental influences on our idea of government today has been the the Magna Carta Libertatum or Great Charter of Liberties. One of the most revolutionary ideas it promoted was no taxation without representation. At 16 an individual is required to involuntarily submit to the state a portion of their wealth. To then deny that individual a say as the the use of their money is fundamentally wrong.
Taxation is only contributing, under 16s are inferior because they haven't lived as long, which is their fault, and therefore shouldn't be able to vote.
If the voting age is lowered to 16, chavs will be voting. They'll vote for what they think is 'cool' and may vote for BNP or a party like that, without knowing what they are doing or letting pass through in an election for example.
Most chavs won't really be interested in poltics anyway. And if they do, they will most likely be overruled by main parties (Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrats in an election for example)
Don't really care
The voting age in my country is 16 and I can tell you guys that it doesn't really change the political situation.
Most of 16-year-old teenage electorate don't care about politics and don't actually vote.
Besides, an immature 16-year-old may elect an unprepared candidate who gets the kid's vote with personal qualities and a manipulated and alienated speech
They are still maturing, and have not learned enough yet through education as well as experience to make fully informed decisions.
Research has shown the brains of young adults are not fully mature. Thus, they may not be able to fully comprehend the consequences of their choices, including who or what they might vote for. Below is an excerpt of an article from the website "Live Science" which describes what research has uncovered concerning the brain development of young adults:
At an age when Americans are first considered adults, their brains are still maturing, a new study suggests.
Researchers at Dartmouth College scanned the brains of nineteen 18-year-old students who had moved more than 100 miles to attend school.
"During the first year of college, students have many new experiences," said psychologist Abigail Baird, the study's principal investigator. "They are faced with new cognitive, social, and emotional challenges."
A group of 17 older students, ranging in age from 25 to 35, served as a control group for comparison. The results showed that the freshmen students' brains underwent significant changes and were very different from that of the older adults.
The researchers believe the changes represent an increased awareness of the students' inner feelings and an improved ability to organize and integrate incoming sensory information; this synthesis helps shape the kinds of emotional and behavioral responses they have to new experiences.
The results are consistent with other research suggesting that the human brain continues to grow and mature right up to the point when we become adults and even beyond. In another study, researchers found that humans don't really develop the ability to handle multiple pieces of information at once until about the ages of 16 or 17.
"The brain of an 18-year-old college freshman is still far from resembling the brain of someone in their mid-twenties," said Craig Bennett, a graduate student who was involved in the new research. "When do we reach adulthood? It might be much later than we traditionally think."
(end of article). In fact, this research, although it doesn't address the issue of voting, suggests through extrapolation, that the age at which a person should be allowed to vote be RAISED instead!
Another argument against lowering the voting age is the fact that at all previous general elections, the youngest age group tends to produce the lowest turnout. Allowing 16-year-olds the vote will further reduce turnouts at UK elections.
This would not be the case, as 16 and 17 year-olds are more likely to be in, or to have recently been in, an environment where politics can be discussed. This means they will have a developed interest in the subject and will be more likely to vote.
Even if reducing the voting age were to reduce the turnout, it is preposterous that we should limit the franchise to avoid producing an embarrassing statistic.
There would be more people eligible to vote and hence the actual voting numbers would presumably increase, even if percentage turnout didn’t.
"Some people are concerned that lowering the voting age would lead to a lower turnout in elections, the theory being that a larger voting population made up of younger voters, who are currently less likely to vote, would reduce the overall turnout. However, analysis by the Electoral Reform Society shows that if 16-18 year olds turned out in the same proportion as the 18-24 age group, there would be virtually no effect on turnout. Even if not one 16-18 year old voted, overall turnout would drop by only 2%.
Women are less likely to vote than men, poor people less likely than the more affluent and people from minority ethnic groups less than white people. Nobody suggests that these lower turnout groups should have their voting rights removed. No one should suggest that some 16 and 17 year olds not voting is a good enough reason to deny the many that do want to vote." - Electoral Reform Society
Where to draw the line?
The line has to be drawn somewhere. If the voting age was reduced to 16, could we then expect to hear cries for allowing 14-year-olds the vote? 18 is the age when an individual becomes an adult, and in a vast majority of democracies across the world, it is the age when an individual may vote at elections. It is, therefore, a sensible age at which to draw the line for UK elections.
A line has to be drawn somewhere, but 18 is not that age. A 16-year-old is likely to be well aware of the effect a government will have on their education and work prospects. They can pay tax. They can join the armed forces. They can raise children. A 16-year-old has just as much interest in who governs the country as any other person.
Does it really matter what the voting age is in other countries? This could even be an opportunity to take a lead and to inspire other nations to follow in our footsteps. We should certainly not leave the voting age at 18 because it’s ‘the norm’.
Inaddition, why should the fact that a 14-year old may be able to vote shock us, we trust children every day. Children as young as 13 can be trusted to handle rifles with live ammunition in the combined cadet force. But, they are institually irrational because of their date of birth until their 18th birthday.
Rights of the 16 year old are not as far reaching as supposed so they do not warrant the vote on the 'rights'/consistency argument
16 and 17 year olds are restricted from front line duty, can only marry with their parents permission, and that anyone who purchases goods and services pays VAT.
16/17 year olds joining the armed forces sign up to a period of at least 4 years, meaning that at 16, they are making decisions which may place their lives in danger for half of their minimum time in the armed forces. Similarly, while 16/17 year olds in England and Wales require the permission of their parents or legal guardians to marry, being granted the legal responsibility over ones sex life, with potential health risks and/or creation of new life should not be underestimated. Finally, while VAT is indeed paid by anyone, this is clearly different to direct contributions to national insurance and jobseekers allowance paid by those over the age of 16.
The Electoral Reform Society
Why should discriminatory laws mean that uner 18s cannot vote, when these laws in of themselves are justified by the inability to vote.
What do you think?