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Votes at 16.

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
So, Labour have come out saying that if they win the general election in 2015, they will lower the voting age to 16 for 2020.

What is your opinion on this, and why?

Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I'm unsure about this either way. Oddly if we allowed voting at 16 then we would be in the odd situation where someone could vote but not smoke or drink. Many would argue that at 16, many young people have not fully grown up yet. I do think though, that many have. It's a good idea by Labour and I think there are a lot of pros and cons to it. If we dropped it to 16, what happens in a few years when people want to drop it to 15?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    It's certainly worth considering - though these things are best done with cross-party support - though at least the change isn't as transparent an attempt to rig the vote in favour as Alex Salmond's and the referendum.

    That said I think the actual difference will be marginal, it's only two years earlier than current and lots of 16 and 17 yr olds won't bother (18-24 currently has the lowest proportion of people voting); it may get labour a few extra votes, but not nearly as many as many people think (though I suspect Labour Party strategists know this as well and aren't expecting this to make a major difference, which may be why they think they could get it through in what's likely to be a coalition or small majority Govt)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think it would be better to investigate why the voter turnout is so low and invest in bringing it up before lowering the voting age. As G says, they can't drink, smoke, or get married, why is voting ok? Though it is worth mentioning that at 16 you can join the armed forces, but not vote about who's telling you where to go.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Fiend_85 wrote: »
    Though it is worth mentioning that at 16 you can join the armed forces, but not vote about who's telling you where to go.

    This is the most compelling argument in favour for me, along with the fact that you are not exempt from tax if you're working at 16.

    There is a bigger issue of turnout amongst young people, but the two may go hand-in-hand. This debate requires engaging young voters, after all, it might have a positive knock-on effect.

    The only thing votes at 16 should be used for is as a means to ensure 16-year-olds can vote. If it's a tool or a ploy for anything else (increased turnout, additional votes for Labour, whatever) odds are it simply won't achieve that. It has to be looked at on its own merits.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Thanks for these responses. You've raised some really interesting points

    With regards to tax, it's a bit hard to avoid that, almost everyone pays tax in some way. A 5 year old buying sweeties in a shop pays tax - should they have some say over how the country is run?

    " if we allowed voting at 16 then we would be in the odd situation where someone could vote but not smoke or drink." Why would that be an odd situation do you think? hap Why should voting age be related to drinking and smoking? Also, this situation happens in some places, such as in some states in USA where the age of drinking alcohol is 21 and voting is 18. 16 year olds can actually drink alcohol in the UK, with a meal in a pub.

    "at 16 you can join the armed forces, but not vote about who's telling you where to go." - You don't get put on the front line at 16 though. At 16-17 you receive training, and at 18 you are told where to go. :) But should we be lowering the age of voting to 16, or should we instead be raising the age at which you can join the army to 18, as many other countries have it?

    "they can't ... get married" You can get married at 16 (although you do need your parent's consent!)

    Personally, I am very worried about youth turnout in the UK. Not many people know this, but we are moving to a system called "individual voter registration". You need to be registered so that you can vote. Currently, most young people are registered because their parent has registered them if they are still living with them at home, or they are living in university accommodation and the head of that accommodation has registered them. After the 2015 election, however, we will all have to register ourselves individually - which I'm worried that many young people wont bother to get round to doing and will then find themselves not being able to vote on election day; and also many young people who are currently on the electoral list are in danger of being taken off it in the move to the new system. So even if the voting age is lowered to 16 for 2020, I think the youth vote will be less than 2015.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    There's a turn out arguement for lower to 16 as well in my eyes.

    If you bring the age down to 16, then you have people able to vote while they are still in full time education, which makes it easier to go and drum up some interest from them in voting. Get them to do it once whilst still in with the masses and then might continue voting.
  • Danny!Danny! Deactivated Posts: 560 Incredible Poster
    Also, people don't turn out to vote if they don't feel that it's relevant to them, or if there is no one that they feel represents them.

    If more young people were eligible to vote, that could push the parties to focus more on policies that are relevant to young people, and therefore increase turnout for young people over 18 too.

    And it could improve policy making for young people - there's not much point from a party perspective in considering 16-17 year olds in policy making if all that means is less votes than the party who focus on people who are allowed to vote.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    A couple of really interesting responses there, thanks.

    Scary Monster - wouldnt that arguement be the same as 15 year olds? If you are going to give that as reason for votes at 16, then shouldnt we have votes at 15, 14 etc as well? I am not sure if your point is right, however, as I know of no evidence to suggest that students aged 18+ in university have higer turnout rates than those not in HE.

    Danny! I'd say that politicians do have a point in considering 16-17 when making policy. Firstly, they quickly turn into 18 year olds - e.g. people who have had their EMA taken away from them now will probably still remember this when they come to vote in the next election in 2015 when they are 18. Plus, most of them have parents who look after them - and these parents will know how their children are eng affected and will vote accordingly.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    A very pedantic point and whilst it doesn't detract from the argument Fiend makes (and I agree), but people under the age of 18 are not deployed operationally within the forces.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    G-Raffe wrote: »
    A very pedantic point and whilst it doesn't detract from the argument Fiend makes (and I agree), but people under the age of 18 are not deployed operationally within the forces.

    Yes, I imagined that they wouldn't be. But it does support the tax argument, yes everyone pays VAT if they buy "luxury" goods. But when you're 16 you can work enough hours to pay income tax, but not council tax I think.

    I think generally, there's a disconnect somewhere between taxation, age and voting.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I have nothing against the idea, though I do wonder if the reason labour are championing it is because young people are less likely to vote for the conservatives.

    It's easier to win an election by your opponent losing support, rather than expending loads of effort to try to boost your own support.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    ShyBoy wrote: »
    I have nothing against the idea, though I do wonder if the reason labour are championing it is because young people are less likely to vote for the conservatives.

    I wouldnt be so sure about that, I'm not saying it would be Tory landslide but it wouldnt be the mass Labour advantage many suspect.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    G-Raffe wrote: »
    I wouldnt be so sure about that, I'm not saying it would be Tory landslide but it wouldnt be the mass Labour advantage many suspect.

    My guess would be a slight advantage to Labour, but pretty limited and not enough to make the difference in all but the narrowest of constituencies...

    ETA - there's also some evidence (from the Economist iirc) that the most popular political position in under 24s is economic and social liberalism, which would make people vote for either liberal wing of the conservatives or the non-social democratic wing of the Lib Dems
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I read that article too, I definitely think liberal democrats 'seem' to represent a lot of young people's views well with their manifesto, its just very few people actually think the lib dems are actually committed to that manifesto.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    ShyBoy wrote: »
    I read that article too, I definitely think liberal democrats 'seem' to represent a lot of young people's views well with their manifesto, its just very few people actually think the lib dems are actually committed to that manifesto.

    I think a wider problem is that only half the liberal democrats are actually liberals, the other half are social democrats who are committed to state intervention. All parties are coalitions but the lib dems are more so than most and once they've got beyond a very narrow range of issues they most agree on (such as no ID cards, PR and being broadly supportive of the EU) their manifesto is a hodge podge of things half the party doesn't agree with and half the party thinks they should die in a ditch for.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    The difficulty about the voting age issue is that MP's are likely to have a vested interest in whether or not to lower the voting age i.e. if they believe the 16-17 year old votes will boost their party in the polls. I feel there for there should be some sort of independent, democratic body outside parliament that decides on this type of issue.

    I would say that I believe anyone who can demonstrate some political understanding and intelligence should be offered the vote regardless of age. Why should the exceptionally bright 10 year old be denied the vote when many adults who have far less intelligence can vote? There should be a test available for anyone under 18 who wishes to vote, so they can demonstrate they have the knowledge and understanding to know what they are voting for. The test would obviously need to be devised by an independent group and checked thoroughly or biases, but in principle, while most under 18s will have limited knowledge and interest in politics, we should have something in place to enable the minority that do, to vote.
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