In most of the UK, the voting age is 18, apart from in Scottish Parliament and local elections, where you can vote at 16. The Welsh Assembly is also considering allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in local elections there, but in England, the government is continuing to keep the voting age at the legal age of adulthood – 18 years old. Personally, I believe that the voting age should be lowered to 16 in all of the UK, and here’s why.
In the UK, the legal age to consent to sex is 16. This means that you are considered old enough to create a child and become a parent, but not old enough to have a say on what the country that your child will grow up in will be like. Another point that links to this is the idea that 16-year-olds “aren’t mature enough to vote” – if you are mature enough to be allowed to raise a child, another human life, surely you are mature enough to be in a ballot box, right? Maturity levels would most likely rise if younger people were given an opportunity to act like adults, and have a responsibility, instead of being treated like children.
Also, 16-year-olds can get jobs and work, meaning that they can earn money, and then have to pay taxes. This means that they are contributing to the economy, but they have no say in who decides how their taxes are being used. I don’t know about you, but I think this is kind of unfair. If you’re paying taxes, you should be allowed to have a say in what the government is doing with your money.
At 16 you can also join the army, risk your life, and train to kill people. At the age of 17, you can learn to drive, and be in control of a potentially dangerous vehicle, which could also kill someone. You can have other people’s lives in your hands, but you can’t say “This is who I want to vote for as Prime Minister”. Where’s the logic in that?
If you were allowed to vote at 16, it would give more young people a reason to become interested in politics, as well as giving schools a reason to teach politics. A lot of younger people don’t understand what politics is, and how it all works, and I’m not afraid to admit that there are parts of it that I don’t completely understand myself. But if 16-year-olds were allowed to vote, there would be a reason for younger people to learn about it, and decide what they want to happen in the future of their country.
Overall, it is our future too. Whatever adults vote for, we will most likely live through it for longer than them, and it affects us too. The next generation should have a say in what the future of their country will be. To quote someone I talked to about this recently – “We’re growing up in a country we can’t have a say in”. To me, that’s a scary thought, and I know that it’s a scary thought to many other young people too.
We’re the next generation, and we want our say.