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Lowering the voting age to 16:

It's September 2013, and Labour Party leader Ed Milliband has pledged to lower the voting age to 16 in England and Wales if he wins the next election. Here, we give teachers a little support for debating the topic in class with students.

Do young people of this age know enough about politics yet? And if they could vote, can they be trusted to do it sensibly?

As most 18-24 year-olds do not use their vote, is 16 is too young?
Arguments seem to cluster roughly around three questions:

  • Representation
    Young people are tax-payers and are old enough to take on a range of adult roles, such as marriage, parenting and full-time employment, So, are they not old enough to vote?
  • Maturity
    Are young people of 16 mature enough to vote? Do they have enough understanding of the world to make sense of politics?
  • Responsibility
    Will 16-18 year-olds take their responsibility seriously enough if given the vote.


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