In 2014, over 109,000 16-17 year olds were included on the Scottish Independence referendum (SIR) register, to which 75% of these voted. If Labour get voted in, Ed Millband has made the promise of 16-17 year olds getting a vote for any future elections.
TSR user RLWKS14 asked the community “Should 16/17 year olds be allowed to vote in General Elections?”. TSR have put together three reasons why 16-17 year olds should have the chance to vote:
1) Politics affects everyone
Whether you’re a student, someone in work or a pensioner, politics affects everyone. Politics can determine your decisions whilst growing up, it may have an effect on your education, future job choices or the way you live, so it’s vital that the younger generation have their say on this. The Student Room user NotJustAName shares their opinion: 'I think it's unfair they can't vote on how their country is run and on matters that affect their life. I think more young people will be engaged in politics if they were given the right to vote, and by doing this they will feel included in political affairs’. ilovereading supports this; 'I want them to hear the voices of the young, all the big decisions in parliament and government will affect US and OUR future'.
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2) Parties will have to adapt to the youth vote
According to Michael90cr, young people are marginalised in politics due to the fact they are unable to vote. Over the last 30 years pensions have grown and starting wages have shrunk due to the power of the 'gray vote' and the comparative weakness of the student vote. Yet what’s to say that it’s not time to make a change on this. User AlexKitson agrees; “I believe in lowering it to 17, if accompanied with more political education in Schools. An understanding of how the system works and where to get further information is all that is needed which may spark more interest in Politics in this politically apathetic generation (giving younger people the vote does inspire them - as proved with the Scottish referendum). This might force the political parties to gear more policies to younger voters - as opposed to chasing the pensioner vote as they do now”. So if schools are to teach politics from a younger age then 16-17 year olds should definitely have the chance to vote.
3) It could make voters for life
Once you turn 16 you get more responsibilities; there are certain things that you are able to do now that you couldn't do before. Legally, you are able to get married (with parent consent), have sex, joined the armed forces etc. you also receive a National Insurance number to qualify for work benefits. So why are 16 and 17 year olds still unable to vote? LovePeaceAwesome believes 16 year olds should be able to vote because it's around this time, people become more aware of the world. Whilst not all young people are interested in politics, being given the right to vote may interest them more’. According to an Electoral Commission Report, 97% of the 16-17 year olds who voted in the Scottish referendum reported that they would vote again in future elections and referendums if given the chance, this goes to show that from this small study, if the government was to lower the voting age, it could change the outcome of any future election or referendum.
What do you think? Have your say on whether you think it's a good idea to let 16 and 17 year olds vote.
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