The voting age should be reduced to 16 for all UK elections.

This question is becoming increasingly contested in the political arena. The government is coming under more and more pressure to lower the voting age to 16. This pressure comes from groups such as The Electoral Commission,The Electoral Reform Society, The Power Inquiry, The Votes at 16 Coalition, as well as the Liberal Democrat Party, The SNP and The Green Party. But what are the reasons behind these calls? Is it really sensible for people as young as 16 to be allowed the vote? This is a debate that must be had, particularly with Gordon Brown finding his party in such a vulnerable position. What if they make the wrong decision because of their education? Should they be able to if they pass a test at 16?

The voting age should be reduced to 16 for all UK elections.

Yes because... No because...

Consistency

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

The voting age should be reduced to 16 for all UK elections.

Yes because... No because...

Alienation

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.

The voting age should be reduced to 16 for all UK elections.

Yes because... No because...

Citizenship

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.

The voting age should be reduced to 16 for all UK elections.

Yes because... No because...

Increase turnout

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.

The voting age should be reduced to 16 for all UK elections.

Yes because... No because...

Representation

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 voting age should be reduced to 16 for all UK elections.

Yes because... No because...

Rights

"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.

The voting age should be reduced to 16 for all UK elections.

Yes because... No because...

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.

The voting age should be reduced to 16 for all UK elections.

Yes because... No because...

Tax

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 havn't lived as long, which is their fault, and therefore shouldn't be able to vote.

The voting age should be reduced to 16 for all UK elections.

Yes because... No because...

Maturity

This is the same argument that was previously used against allowing the under 30s to vote, allowing the working class to vote, allowing women the vote in the 1920s and then to argue against lowering the voting age to 21, and then to 18. Today, most would think it to be highly immoral to prevent any of these groups from voting. It is equally immoral to prevent 16 and 17-year-olds from having a say in who should represent them.

I am 16 and I know more about politics than any adult I know. You will say that I am in the minority but the idea that you suddenly turn 18 and are mature enough and well-informed enough to place a vote is stupid. People get engaged in politics at different ages, my mother has never developed knowledge about politics and she is now 42. Does this mean she should suddenly loose her democratic right to vote?

Quite simply, 16-year-olds generally do not have the necessary political maturity or knowledge to cast a well informed vote, or rather, do not know what some adults may, and tend to vote for liberals who I hate.

The voting age should be reduced to 16 for all UK elections.

Yes because... No because...

Turnout

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

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.

The voting age should be reduced to 16 for all UK elections.

Yes because... No because...

Where to draw the line?

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.

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.

The voting age should be reduced to 16 for all UK elections.

Yes because... No because...

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

16/17 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.

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.

The voting age should be reduced to 16 for all UK elections.

Yes because... No because...

Difficulty of enforcing the minimum age

I do not believe that 16 year olds are mature enough to vote or do some other activities at this age. This is why the legal age to purchase alcohol is 21 and to drive is at 17. Other laws such as the ability to consent to sexual activity and to get married are at 16 for many reasons, one reason being that it is harder to enforce these since it has been known for people younger than 16 to have done these. It is a lot harder to prevent Under 16s from having sex than it is to prevent Under 18s from voting.

This is why the voting age is at 18 and sexual consent can be given at 16- An under 17/18/21 cannot find a way around driving, voting or purchasing alcohol because of measures in force such as the requirement for showing proof of age, i.e. ID. The reason some activities are permitted at 16 is because young people are likely to do them even if the minimum age was higher.

Debates > The voting age should be reduced to 16 for all UK elections.