Recently, I signed an Early Day Motion calling for the voting age to be lowered to 16. The EDM states:
That this House notes that 16 year olds can enter into marriage and civil partnerships, pay income tax and national insurance, obtain social security benefits in their own right, become a company director, consent to medical treatment, and join the armed forces, a political party or a trade union; believes that young people should be given the chance to fulfil their potential and play a full part in society, including through political engagement and participation in democratic decision-making; notes that the voting age is 16 in Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Jersey, and Scotland; further notes that the Wales Act 2017 provides the Welsh Assembly with the power to lower the voting age for its elections; considers that, as part of the first generation to receive citizenship education, the UK’s 1.5 million 16 and 17 year olds are as knowledgeable and competent to vote as other young adults; and calls on the Government to give 16 and 17 year olds a say in their long-term future by legislating to reduce the voting age to 16 for all national and local elections and referendums at the earliest possible opportunity.
The recent election showed that young people want to engage and participate in our democracy. Turnout increased across the constituency and in all age groups, but it was most notable in first time voters.
16 year olds pay income tax and national insurance. They can get help and support through social security payments and can get married or enter into a civil partnership. So it is clearly wrong that they are not given the right to vote.
The recent election showed us that young people are interested, and want to participate, in our democratic process. We should encourage this and one way to do so is to demonstrate our belief that their opinion is worth just as much as everyone else’s. I have long fought for the voting age to be reduced as I believe it is a fair and sound way of ensuring people have a stake in our society and community.
We can see that Scotland has already lowered its voting age and it has increased participation. The more people engage with politics the better the decisions taken are. Politicians have to take into account all ages and not just those that vote.
The minority Conservative government has blocked moves by parliament to lower the voting age before. I hope they understand that blocking it once more only harms our democracy. I want to see voter turnout increase once more at the next election. This would be a practicable way of achieving that. That is why I have signed this Early Day Motion.”