Daniel Nixon gives us a young person’s view of the debate
It seems likely that the Labour Party will propose lowering the voting age to 16 in their next manifesto before the general election. Whilst most young people will see this as a beneficial move, others will have criticisms and arguments against it.
One criticism of lowering the voting age is that young people are inexperienced and less educated, politically speaking, so unable to make accurate decisions about voting. Although this is a fair point, a simple solution would be to promote political awareness as part of the school curriculum. This could be implemented by having political speakers coming in to schools or by holding discussions about politics in class. This would help young people to make informed decisions on how to use their vote.
But are 16-year olds responsible enough to use a vote? The reality is that 16-year olds can already pay tax on their income and they can join the army, showing that they are already given a large amount of responsibility. As taxpayers, they should have a say in what their money is used for, and soldiers who are deemed mature enough to fight for their country should be able to vote for it too. Young people are undermined when they are given responsibilities and futures without having a say in them. Too much is decided for them.
Some people believe that the younger generation simply lacks interest in politics, therefore lowering the voting age would serve no purpose. This belief is misinformed. Young people have shown themselves to be heavily invested in the politics and future of this country. It was the younger generation who pressurised the government to introduce more urgent environmental policies. The fact that they have managed to have such an impact on a national – even international – scale without being able to vote demonstrates their investment in politics.
People worried when the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18, but today we accept it as normal and right. Lowering it to 16 would go the same way. It would be good for both the public and the political system.