Lower the voting age
“This world’s leaders are growing older and so are their opinions”
In this modern world, modern solutions must be made by young people. Why?
This world’s leaders are growing older and so are their opinions. Fresh minds and voices must be heard in democracy to balance the new and the wise. This is important when thinking about the voting age.
For one thing, many politicians have aging viewpoints on rights, labour and many other topics which need to be freshened by the youth’s mind. Voting is a huge part of democracy meaning more youth voters will ensure a balance of age in our society.
Another important point is the decisions made today affect the future, one where the youth will live, and the elderly will leave. They will leave behind a legacy of the necessary change in their lifetime but not ones needed in ours.
The ability to be economically active by having a small part time Saturday job and getting a national insurance number allows you a right to make decisions in our government. That is a key factor in believing that the voting limit should be 16. This means that you can change decisions in education and helping student mental health because they are taking their GCSE as well as influencing the working world.
However, one important thing to remember is the vote casted at this age should not be influenced by a parent or the media. This age limit comes with a negative side. You must education yourself on what you would be voting for and researching the candidates manifesto to make a vote that will positively impact your future and those who surround you.
Emilia, 14, Leicester
Read more from Emilia
– – –
“young people are often not able to express their values and views – we don’t get a voice”
One reason, for me, in favour of lowering the voting age to 16 is that the referendum on whether to remain in the EU or not made me realise that young people are often not able to express their values and views – we don’t get a voice. The Brexit vote was so frustrating for me as I felt that older people were making decisions that would have a huge impact on the future of younger people. My grandmother, for example, voted for Brexit whereas I would not have voted in this way. However, I had no say.
On the other hand, there is the argument that not all young people, currently under the voting age, have the experience or knowledge to vote. However, it could also be argued that people over the age of 18 may not have the experience to do this either! I feel that many of my friends have enough knowledge of their own values and what they think is right, to vote on issues like Brexit or to vote on the political party which they want in government. To be honest, if voting in the ‘right’ way or voting in a ‘mature’ way was the criteria, we wouldn’t have a democracy, and maybe a lot of adults would not be allowed to vote either! Maturity does not necessarily have anything to do with age.
- If the voting age is lowered to 16 it would really increase the participation on election day which is important as there is too much voter apathy.
- Many young people have responsibilities; many under 18s already cope with the enormous stress and pressure of GCSEs and A levels, some are carers, some do voluntary work and many are already in paid employment in one form or another. I think that a number of young people under 18 have shown that they contribute to society and their community in an important way and, therefore, that they have the ability to make a sensible decision about the person they want to represent them in parliament.
- Young people are already allowed to learn to drive at 17, an extremely responsible thing to be able to do.
- You can get married at 16, with parental consent.
- According to the law, we know the difference between right and wrong.
- We are not adequately represented because we don’t have the voice we need on issues like the environment. Give us the vote from 16, or even 17, so we can influence policy.
- There was a time when women had to fight for the vote, so, just because it is the ‘status quo’, this does not make things necessarily right and it does not mean that they cannot change.
- Lowering the voting age may get young people in the habit of voting, which may mean that they are more likely to carry on voting as adults.
I can see that the argument that young people are not mature enough at 16 and don’t have enough experience of life to vote, would be a strong one. Some will say that the line has to be drawn somewhere. However, I would say that if the vote is lowered to 16, Politics could be taught in schools; educate children and young people to understand the political system and political ideas then they will be more able to make an informed choice if they are able to vote.
We are the adults of the future.
Beth, 17, Leicester
Read more from Beth
Keep the voting age
“I am 15, and to be brutally honest, I do not think I am mature enough to vote”
Firstly, I understand why changing the voting age could be an opportunity for hope and have a positive impact on our country. One thing that could change is the Conservative party majority in the UK. YouGov statistics from a 2019 post-election survey show that the younger you are, the more likely you are to vote for a party other than Conservative. For over 70-year-olds, 21% said they voted Labour, and 67% said they voted Conservative, while for under 24-year-olds, 56% said they voted Labour and 21% said they voted Conservative. In fact, YouGov says that “for every 10 years older a voter is, their chance of voting Tory increases by around nine points, and the chance of them voting Labour decreases by eight points.” Therefore, if people aged 16-17 were eligible to vote, it is natural to think that this could possibly increase the number of Labour voters in the country.
I am not completely convinced that this would happen, however, as though I have faith that lots of people around my age would vote according to their own opinions, I think at least some people would absent-mindedly vote the same way as their parents. According to the Office for National Statistics, 92% of 16-year-olds and 95% 17-year-olds were living with their parents in 2019. They still live in the home they have been brought up in and, whether good or bad, have been influenced by the views of their parents. I think some people, who did not take voting seriously, would either skip voting or vote for the same party as their parents without thoroughly researching what this would mean, or their other options.
I am aware that this is a generalisation, so take it with a pinch of salt, but from my experience, I do not feel that a lot of people, my age or similar, are mature enough to vote. I am 15, and to be brutally honest, I do not think I am mature enough to vote. It is a huge responsibility, that is likely to affect the future of our country and I do not think I will be ready in 1 year to take on that responsibility. But to each their own, I know many sensible and intelligent young people who would take the challenge in their stride and aim to make the most informed decision.
What do you think? Would you be ready to vote at 16?
Tabitha, 15, Leicester
Read more from Tabitha
– – –
“lowering the voting age to 16, perhaps, would only then result in another debate years down the line of 14, 12, etc”
I think this is a really hard statement to discuss because voting is such a complex issue, for example, the lack of education so many people have, regarding their vote, or the fact that many do not even use it.
Regardless, I am inclined to say: no, the voting age should not be lowered.
However, this is not the immediate answer that comes to mind. I am 15 years old currently, and I am certainly sharp-minded and care a lot about many issues, so it should only make sense that next year I would be able to vote, right?
Well, not really. Firstly, lowering the voting age to 16, perhaps, would only then result in another debate years down the line of 14, 12, etc and it would be a never-ending list until everyone has the right to vote. That wouldn’t necessarily be such a bad thing, but generally, the more accessible that something is, the less people appreciate it. For example, one of the major arguments for lowering the voting age is that many 16-17 year olds are very politically aware, and know ‘more than the average voter’, but that is often only due to the debate anyway – young people become ‘clued up’ about voting because of the wait and the anticipation and anger that they don’t already have a say, and I think that in the end it benefits rather than hinders.
As well as this, people, but especially young people, have tendencies to act upon a whim in various situations. Often this results in unintended consequences. It is very old and common advice to simply wait before making decisions, and by lowering the voting age, and inevitably lowering it further and further, we are less likely to spend the adequate amount of time to properly address the issues in politics. I have many friends who have become very politically aware for this exact reasons, and I have confidence that eventually they will put their vote to best use.
The voting age being 18 also has other useful consequences, which I think we should aim to capitalise on. For example, not being able to have a say in national, global affairs, (should) encourage young people to attempt to make a difference in their community instead. I think that this would be far more useful, because not only are we able to see the more immediate impact of our good deeds, but we are able to learn more about other people’s lives in the process.
I do agree that the argument for not raising the voting age because young people are ‘not mature enough’ and ‘don’t know enough about the world’ is flawed, because of course this can be applied to any age group. However, there is still some merit in it and I see it around me every day. An issue with allowing young people to vote is simply how, by nature, we are very much inclined to follow extreme ideologies, that rarely are sustainable (for example, Marxism). I think that the youth perspective of an idealised world is certainly useful in many ways, and ultimately it is what shapes the next generation, but it should be left to simmer for longer so it can take a more sustainable form.
Therefore, overall, I am not in support of the voting age being lowered. However, I am very much in support of the youth being able to use their voice and their actions. I think that being an active member of your community is the best thing that a young person can do for their future, and the future of those around them.
Globalisation has been one of the biggest successes of the last century, however, it has not come without problems. Nowadays, people feel as though the biggest issues are the ones far away from them, ones that they have never truly seen. People feel as though the only way to make a difference is by attacking it from the top-down. But really, the best way to truly make a difference is to change the environment around you for the better, and let that positive influence ripple out, rather than voting once and expecting the sea to part for you. Don’t criticise the world, if you haven’t cleaned your room.
Ella, 15, Driffield
Read more from Ella