Should the government change thelaw so that 16 and 17 year olds can vote?
The CampaignThe votes at 16 campaign want our political system to recognise theabilities of 16 year olds. To properly include them in our society andshow them the trust and respect that society expects of them bygiving them the right to vote.Key Points:• There are over 1.5 million 16 and 17 year olds in the UK denied the vote.• Votes at 16 is a campaign made up of young people, organisations and network of politicians across the UK.• They believe that people are ready for Votes at 16 because it will:• Engage 16 and 17 year olds at the ballot who hold many responsibilities in our society• Empower 16 and 17 year olds, through a democratic right, to influence decisions that will define their future• Inspire young people to get involved in our democracy.
Fighting for their RightsThere is a clear and consistent demand from young people for thevoting age to be lowered to 16. Thousands of young people havesigned up to support this on going campaign. Individual young people,youth councils and youth groups across the UK are lobbying theirparliamentary representatives for the right to vote at 16.However this campaign has been met with opposition. In the lastgeneral election (2010) only 44% 18-24 years old turn up to vote,which hasn’t help people take this campaign seriously.
Who can Vote?To vote in a UK general election a person must be registered to vote andalso:• be 18 years of age or over on polling day• be resident in the UK• be a British citizen, a qualifying Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland• not be subject to any legal incapacity to voteThe following cannot vote in a UK general election:• members of the House of Lords (although they can vote at elections to local authorities, devolved legislatures and the European Parliament)• EU citizens resident in the UK (although they can vote at elections to local authorities, devolved legislatures and the European Parliament)• anyone other than British, Irish and qualifying Commonwealth citizens• convicted persons detained in pursuance of their sentences (though remand prisoners, unconvicted prisoners and civil prisoners can vote if they are on the electoral register)• anyone found guilty within the previous five years of corrupt or illegal practices in connection with an election
At 16 you can…• Join the army, fight and die for your country in war• Pay tax on any earnings from part time or full time work• Get married (with your parents’ consent)• Start a family
But you cannot…• Vote for the leaders who decide whether we go to war or not• Vote for those who decide how your taxes are spent• Vote for those who make the laws on marriage• Vote for those who make the laws on education and parenting
5 reasons why they Should they get the vote?1. If we are to convince young people that they can make a difference and that their views will be listened to we need to lower the voting age to 16 in all UK elections.2. Lowering the voting age to 16 will give young people an opportunity to be involved with decision-making in Britain and inspire young people to influence British politics.3. 16 and 17 year olds can leave home and live independently, get married and start a family, join the army and pay taxes so why can’t they vote?4. Young people are just as passionate about the world they live in as the rest of society – they care about decisions made on education, on tackling climate change and the credit crunch and to and they want to change the society they live in for the better. They should get to vote about the issues they care about and that have an affect on their lives too.5. Students learn about politics and citizenship in school so they are in a good position to make an informed decision at elections but yet they are denied the right to use this knowledge
5 reasons why they shouldn’t they get the vote1. Quite simply, 16-year-olds, generally, don’t have enough knowledge about politics and political parties to cast a well informed vote.2. Most children are likely to be heavily influenced by the beliefs of their teachers and parents, so effectively these groups would get extra votes3. The line has to be drawn somewhere. If the voting age was reduced to 16, could we then expect to hear cries for allowing 14-year-olds the vote? 18 is the age when an individual becomes an adult.4. Voting is a very serious and important responsibility. A huge amount of 16 year olds are just not responsible enough or mature enough to use their vote wisely.5. Teenagers are at their most rebellious and negative stage, a time when they are more keen on making a bold statement than acting responsibly. Rebellion against your parents taste in music and their rules is one thing; lets not make that part of the democratic process by which our government is elected.
Food for thoughtHeadliners Votes at 16 Cliphttp://www.votesat16.org/http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9mdNmep-ZEhttp://www.co-operative.coop/membership/changing-the-world/add-your-voice-to-a-campaign/votes-at-16/http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8602921.stm