FE News reports that Wales this month has lowered the voting age to 16 for local elections. Newcastle CIty Councillors believe this is the way forward for England to boost electoral turn-out.
Most of Britain’s principal political parties are now signed up to reducing the voting age to 16 to boost electoral turn-out in an era of declining participation in civic affairs: what some experts refer to as the ‘democratic deficit’.
In the last general election, held in 2017, only 53 per cent of young people aged 18 to 24 voted. Just under a half didn’t bother for a variety of reasons, ranging from apathy, lack of knowledge of the issues, or what the main parties stand for, alienation, anomie, or the perception that all the major political parties had nothing meaningful to offer to youngsters.
Nothing could be further from the truth; but perceptions still shape reality. The British government needs a wake- up call, if representative democracy, is to survive during the rest of the twentieth-first century.
Let’s examine the case for and against this policy proposal. The independent Electoral Commission recommended in 2011 that the voting age stay at 18. According to the Commission, on the basis of extensive field work and surveys, young people aren’t politically mature enough at 16.
They don’t know enough about politics, lack confidence and don’t feel ready for the civic responsibility of voting at 16. The Commission’s survey of 1,000 young adults suggested strong support for keeping the voting age at 18.
The UK Youth Parliament have hit back. The campaign to reduce the voting age is backed by thousands of young people across the nation.
There are several places where 16-year olds have the right to vote such as the Isle of Man, Jersey, Austria, Brazil, state elections in Germany, Hungary and close to home of course Scotland and now Wales – for local council elections.
16 and 17- year olds are knowledgeable, and sometimes quite passionate about the world they live in. They are as capable of engaging in the democratic system as any other citizen.
Read many more for and against views Wales allows school age voters
What do you think? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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