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Should the voting age in local and general elections be reduced to 16?

June 28, 2018 1:16 PM
By Tony Clayton

The precedent for this has been set. By overwhelming agreement of most political parties the voting age for Scotland's independence referendum was set at 16. The case for change was that this decision would affect everyone's future - and the young have more at stake than anyone else.

Over 75% of 16 and 17 year olds turned out to vote, knocking on the head the old myth that young people are not interested in politics. Given the chance, they certainly are.

But the argument that politics is about the future extends to all elections, not just to referenda. With today's voting age at 18, the majority of citizens will be into their 20s before they get a first chance to have a say on how their country or community is run. In that time most will have paid tax - and will have had no say in how it is spent. Taxation without representation is not a good principle for democratic participation.

Between 16 and 18 you can start and raise a family, work, pay taxes and join the armed forces. The idea that you are not mature enough to take on the responsibility of voting sounds like the arguments used a century ago to restrict votes for women. That's why Liberal Democrats have been campaigning for almost 20 years for the voting age to be set at 16

The clearest case for a lower voting age was the EU referendum. If Brexit goes ahead (despite the best efforts of government to mess it up) young people people will lose rights to trade, work, study, and form families across European borders without a mountain of bureacratic interference.

Check out the young people organising Our Future, Our Choice on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/OFOCBrexit/?hc_ref=ART-FivablB-R1GMBll3HzfKZIILOzbU6e7X0JvyqAI5rT18MR_bCsZryvLhego8Y-g&fref=nf .

They are articulate, thoughtful, and really care about our democracy. They deserve a say.