We are a group called Young Voices and we are campaigning for the voting age to be lowered from 18 to 16. Our campaign is called Franchise at 16 and we are doing a number of activities to make ourselves heard.
The right to vote is given to those who are eligible but this does not include 16 or 17 year olds. Therefore, we aim to change this.
Also, our aim is to achieve change from the government and enable the public to understand the importance of voting at the age of 16.
Teenagers are being denied the right to vote in the UK. One of our basic human rights is freedom of speech. Today teenagers participate in society just like most adults.
In 2007, there were approximately 4,560 16-17 year olds serving in the armed forces. Employment begins at 16 years of age and if you leave school and decide to work you are expected to work up to 8 hours a day.
A young worker who is at the age of 16 and earns a minimum wage of £5,000 has to pay taxes. As teenagers we pay taxes and are expected to work by society but the government has not addressed the right teenagers need to have a vote.
In 2005-2006 alone, £47 million pound of taxes were contributed from teenagers. This figure shows people what teenagers already do in society today.
What is an election?
An election is when people entitled to vote (known as electorates) select one or more options, usually a person or political party from a list of candidates.
UK elections are known as First Past the Post.
The UK in divided into 659 areas called constituencies.
In elections, candidates from different political parties stand to become a member of parliament for a specific constituency.
On a Ballot paper- name of candidate of constituency with description, the political party name and logo.
To vote put an X next to preferred candidate.
Candidate with the most votes wins and becomes the member of parliament (MP) of their constituencies. He/she wins a seat in parliament for his/her political party.
The party with the most seats forms the government and it’s leader becomes Prime Minister (PM).
Voting is your democratic right.
It gives the choice of who you would like to be represented by.
It gives you the choice in issues that affect you everyday.
People have fought for the right to vote in many countries including the UK.
18 year olds or above.
A British citizen.
A European Union or qualifying commonwealth citizen resident in the UK.
Makes decisions and passes laws on different issues.
Is made up of 2 ‘Houses’ ; the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
The House of Commons has 646 elected MPs.
The party with the most MPs forms the parliament.
Its leader becomes the Prime Minister (PM).
The government proposes new laws and raises issues for parliament to debate about.
It puts into action the decision made by the parliament.
MPs are elected through general elections.
They generally take place every 5 years, though sometimes they take place earlier.
The House of Lords has 735 unelected members.
They scrutinise the work of the House of Commons.
The law on the voting age in the UK is 18 years and above and we as a group want a change to come about. The vote should not only be available to a certain group but to every individual including teenagers.
People argue that giving the vote to adolescents would be a bad move because they are too immature.
There have been no studies or statistics to prove this opinion of teenagers. This view on young people has come about by a minority of teenagers who do not behave in the best of manners outside and the media portraying teenagers as rude and obnoxious.
We can also honestly say that there are some teenagers that are more mature than adults.
Young people now are more educated about politics than that of the former generation because it is compulsory for every secondary school to teach Citizenship. Any person who uses the excuse that teenagers are not educated in that matter of politics is clearly influenced by the media.
We also believe the law should be changed to 16 instead of 18 because when a person reaches the age of 18 he or she will be more interested in their education and also some might question the law and will not bother voting at 18, when you were deprived of the right to vote in your early teens.
Hence they will not vote until they are 23 and above and for this reason giving 16 year olds the vote will encourage more youngsters to vote in the general election.
Lowering the voting age to give teenagers the vote would engage them more within the community. They would be able to choose who the country is run by and how it is run.
Most people say that teenagers would only vote for the person they like the most. This opinion is very much said by people who do not value the intellectual aspect of teenagers and think that all teenagers are the same when they are not.
People worry that giving the vote to 16 year olds would mean fewer people voting. This fact has been proven wrong because statistics show that if 16 year olds were given the vote they would turn out in the same numbers as 18-24 year olds.
The enthusiasm teenagers have to be given the vote can be seen in parts of the world. In Germany there was higher turnout levels in the 16-18 year group than in the 18-24 year group.
In order to bring about a new law, a Bill has to be put forward. So in 2007-2008, a Bill was put forward for voting age (Reduction).
This Bill will: “ amend the Representation of the People Act 1983 to reduce the voting age for parliamentary and other elections, including local government elections, to 16. ”