Votes at 16

I recently saw a tweet about a campaign for votes at 16

The parliament debate opened with two stand points

Lib Dem Stephen Williams opened the debate on 24 January 2013 with his argument that “the will of the old is trumping the needs of the young” since “more 63-year-olds are able to vote at the moment than 18-year-olds”.
He said that changing the voting age would merely lower the average age of voters rather than meaning elections were decided by “swathes of 16-year-olds”.

He concluded: “We trust young people, we trust them to fight for this country, surely it’s time for us to trust them to elect us to this place.”

From the Conservative back benches, Philip Davies argued against the motion.

“Simply because many 16 and 17-year-olds can engage a sensible argument, it doesn’t follow they should be given the vote,” he said. “If that was the basis for giving the vote, we’d have to give it to seven, eight and nine-year-olds, because they ask some of the most searching questions.”

He decried “nauseating” attempts by MPs “trying to court the youth vote, trying to appear trendy”.

Is this the work of MP trying to get more votes, are the conservative government thinking that by giving the vote to these young people they will be grateful and vote conservative or do they actually feel there is a place for YP to vote.

I sort of agree with the MP Philip Davis  when he said why stop at 16. I have known some 13 and 14 year olds who are more sensible, mature and decided on matters than the 16 year olds that they join in explorer scout. However I guess everything has a cut off point somewhere or things get out of control.

Another point was made by the Labour MP Barry Sheerman speak against the motion.

“I used to be in favour but my experience as chair of the education committee changed my mind,” he explained. “Childhood is being truncated. Childhood is being squeezed all the time. I want children to celebrate childhood, to have fun, to be irresponsible.”

With so much influence on youth empowerment are we taking away the freedoms of childhood from young people to soon. It is not the joy of being youmg that you have nothing to worry about no decision, no stress, no pressure from campaigns or is that actually the young person has all those pressures and stress but no power to do anything about it.


The Votes at 16 Campaign says

Votes at 16 will engage 16 and 17 year olds, who hold many responsibilities in our society, to influence key decisions that affect their lives and ensure youth issues are represented.

We believe it is impossible to justify the automatic and blanket exclusion of 16 and 17 year olds from the right to vote because, at 16, the law allows a person to:

  • give full consent to medical treatment
  • leave school and enter work or training
  • pay income tax and National Insurance
  • obtain tax credits and welfare benefits in their own right
  • consent to sexual relationships
  • get married or enter a civil partnership
  • change their name by deed poll
  • become a director of a company
  • join the armed forces
  • become a member of a trade union or a co-operative society.

Not only are 16 and 17 year olds by law able to make complex decisions and take on wide ranging responsibilities, they are also showing in practice that they want to make a positive difference. Locking them out is patronising: it relies on out-dated views about young people’s capacities.

Votes at 16 will empower 16 and 17 year olds, through a democratic right, to influence decisions that will define their future.

There are over 1.5 million 16 and 17 year olds in the UK. These young people are knowledgeable and passionate about the world in which they live, and are as capable of engaging in the democratic system as any other citizen.

The motion in favour of lowering the voting age passed by 119 votes to 46. However I have read up on some of this issue and I find myself still siting on the fence over it not sure which side to jump down on,

I hope that giving the vote to young people will engage more people with the decision making process of the county and truly empower them to make a change.

I hope that we empower young people to see there is more to life at 16 than getting married and pregnant just to get a council house. However I am not sure that this will engage with those young people, your desire to vote and be part of society often comes from your social surroundings and if you’re not empowered by those adults around you because they have no desire to engage then will you.

I wonder if at 16 you are educated enough in life to understand what your voting for – I am 36 and half the time I am not sure about which set of politicians are going to screw me over the least when I vote.

I ask myself the question, if they are lowering the voting age to 16 why not lower the drinking age to 16? It would logically follow that if you are responsible enough to vote, you are responsible enough to drink or at least make the choice of how to drink. Why does being 18 make you more empowered to treat alcohol with respect.

I hope that giving the vote to 16 and 17 year olds will mean that political parties will focus on youth related policy in order to attract young voters. It is more likely that younger voters are going to be concerned with future issues like sustainability, fuel security, renewable power and thus focus government policy in these key areas. Which is a good thing for all.

Those are my thoughts, why not tell me in the comments what if your thoughts are on Votes at 16

Quotes taken from BBC Democracy Live

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  • And the Big Dog is back in the house. Oh the quirky world of 16 – 17 year olds and being responsible and all that. It’s all muddled really isn’t it, the government is happy to send 17 year olds to war to die to benefit its causes, yet it won’t let them buy alcohol from the Offy. What the government is really scared of is giving young people a say, because they are often more clued up than they think. Would a tory government really want 16 and 17 year olds voting in the next election, when so many services, jobs and social help for young people are being slashed?

    Why should people assume 16 and 17 years are not educated enough to vote. I know many idiots of an older age who you would think by their intelligence/stupidity level shouldn’t have the vote.

    Whether you are 16 or 60, if your working hard, paying taxes, getting educated or making a contribution to society, you should be entitled to vote.

    • Ben, I agree that offering the vote to the younger age group is probably a good thing and if your able to serve our Country in war then you should be able to vote for the government sending you there.


  • Tough question this. I have to say that I am firmly and decisively sitting on the fence!

    One sixteen year old can be fully informed of their voting choices as anyone over 18. But a a 30 year old (for example) can be just as ill informed as a different 16 year old.

    I think the real issue is getting people out to vote. The turn out in some elections is laughably low. Apparently, by proportion, voting in things like X Factor is higher, which is sad.

    Perhaps lowering the voting age will encourage more to vote, but the perception of politicians has to change as well. YPs see them as disconnected from them and their lives. It doesn’t matter which party either.