Too young to vote at 16?

Much has been said recently about the idea of allowing those aged 16 and 17 to vote in future elections.

POLLING STATION I believe that 16 and 17-year-olds are too young to vote
POLLING STATION I believe that 16 and 17-year-olds are too young to vote

But in my experience, it is hard enough to get those aged 26, 27 or even older to exercise their franchise, never mind throwing the electoral system open to even more teenagers.

I am not for a minute suggesting that teenagers in that age bracket are not clever enough to understand what is going on.

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But I will stick my neck out and say that they are not, on the whole, adult enough or know enough about what is going on in the world around them.

I have, during a number of radio debates recently, listened to both sides of the argument.

Those in favour suggest that if you are old enough to legally get married and old enough legally to have children, you should be allowed the vote.

Those against seem to follow my own thoughts that 16 and 17-year-olds don’t know enough about politics, the economy or the world in general to cast a vote meaningful vote.

The age limit was lowered for the recent referendum in Scotland.

There was a mass turnout in that yes-no vote, in fact it broke all records for the country.

A turnout of 86% is one of the highest in the democratic world for any election or any referendum in history – and it was seen a triumph for the democratic process and for participation in politics.

Some polling districts achieved 90% turnouts.

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But I bet that if you could look at the demographics for those who actually voted, the biggest missing chunk of voters would have been those aged 16 and 17 and allowed to go to the polling booths for the first time.

It all made me think back to my studies into civil rights some years ago.

The popular slogan was: “No taxation without representation.”

Most 16 and 17-year-olds have been taken out of the tax-generating population and, until that changes, I think that the voting age should remain at 18 – and let’s try to get some of them voting!