British Government considers lowering voting age to 16

Abolish age limits, and go by maturity level? Not necessarily a bad idea, but how do we test for maturity?

People tend to focus on the draft age and the voting age being one and the same. As a woman, I don’t have to worry about being drafted, at the present time. Should I still have been allowed to vote at age 18? I dislike the idea of tying citizenship to military service. As an 18 year old, I was old enough to marry, sign a binding contract, be tried as an adult, hold down a job and pay income taxes. Why shouldn’t I have been considered old enough to vote? Yes, some 18 year olds are wet-behind-the-ears dumbasses. So are some 35 year olds.

The only legitimate reason for not giving someone the vote, IMO, is if in doing so you’re essentially giving two votes to someone else. Five-year-olds shouldn’t have the vote because they’re going to vote however their parents suggest they should, essentially giving people with children more political influence than the childless.

Sixteen year olds, on the other hand, are going to vote however they damn well please.

I see no disadvantage at all to giving the vote to teenagers, and a significant advantage to giving teens a political responsibility that helps them grasp early on the dynamics of a democratic society. At worst, they’d ignore the privilege; at best, they’d feel less alienated from the authority structure around them, given that they had a voice in shaping that structure.

What practical disadvantages do people see to giving teenagers the vote? And no, “Those whiny self-absorbed little shits don’t deserve it” isn’t a practical disadvantage :).


how about using a little common sense here?

Voting is as serious a responsibility as serving on a jury. And does anybody here think that if you, personally, were accused of a crime, you would want a 16 yr old kid controlling your future? At that age, most teenagers dont even do the homework (Brits–is it still called “prep”?) that the teacher assigned.

chappacula, what about practical disadvantages?


No, I’m saying leave voting to legal adults. If you want to make a 16 year old an adult fine, but they then assume all the responsibilities that go with that.

A good question. I think that’s a subject for another thread, though. Lowering the voting age isn’t nearly as radical a change.

Not so fast. Emancipated minors aren’t dependents, but they still don’t get to vote. And it seems suspect that the responsibilities of citizenship, like being tried as an adult and paying taxes, should kick in earlier than the rights.

It’s one criterion, but not the only one. Unemployed adults are still subject to and affected by the law, and because they can vote, politicians pay attention to their interests (with programs to create jobs, etc.).

Nothing new; 16 year olds should always have had the right to vote, IMO. I see a lower voting age as correcting an imbalance that has been there for centuries, just like extending the vote to blacks and women.

That’s true. Maybe the voting age should be 15 instead. :wink:

Sure, I wouldn’t mind having a 16 year old on my jury. Why would you?

What, there are no slackers over age 18?

I’m not sure if this little story counts for or against but consider this: Toronto just elected a new Mayor. And during the run up to the election there was a slow news day. So the main story was about a local highschool that made voting a class project. No one there was actually eligible to vote, but the class project forced them through the motions–and it was pretty intense! They reviewed biographies of the candidates. Researched and then made presentations on the major topics. {some other stuff I forget} At the end of it all they had a little pretend vote and compared their results to actual.

What I got from this was that those students were actually taught “how” to vote. Seems a bit silly, but as we haggle back and forth randomly picking an age consider what the average voter goes through before casting a ballot. How often do you think it comes down to:
1.) “My dad always voted Republican so I do to.”
2.) “That candidate is tall and has nice hair.”

Aristotle said it best, “Democracy is rule by the people, the people are stupid, and therefore democracy is rule by the stupid.”

Perhaps if we lowered it to 16 or 17 then we’d have a chance to produce functioning voters. From what I’ve read these posts all seem to scream, “NO ONE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO VOTE.”

I barely trust 16 year olds to drive let alone make important life altering decisions for others.


My apologies for the double post. If lowering the age of adulthood is another topic then so is taxing minors are trying them as adults.


They can be tried as an adult, its not automatic, and the taxation thing doesn’t work as a voting rights criteria as we’ve agreed.

The fact that perceived maturity varies from person to person is the reason that 21 or 18 was chosen. Because unless you’re planning on introducing a voting aptitude test, a blanket age needs to be applied to avoid confusion.

Though, I’d be happy with allowing for a separate assessment for voting suitability with the emancipated minor act.

I remember being 16. I should NOT have been in a position to help make laws (indirectly or directly). I personally think 18 is too low for most people (sure some are mature enough). Not long ago, 18 meant out on your own. Now it seems to be an extension of high school. The age at which people are fully in the world (and at which they have the life experience to make good choices in regards to the country) is increasing. It wasn’t that long ago that 14=you are a man/woman. Now you can be in your twenties and still never had a job.

Besides, as long as MTV exists, I don’t want young adults making important descisions. That puts too much power in the hands of Carson Daily, Aston Kutcher for swaying the young masses to vote their way.

Personally I think you should have to take a short test before you vote to see if you are really up on the issues. If you can’t answer questions about where the candidates lie on various topics, you haven’t educated yourself enough to be deciding who gets to be in power to make law on those topics. Every year I ask people why they vote for who they do. The vast majority pick ONE thing they based their vote on…many times they just pick someone they like more (nothing based on their standing or views). Sure, some guy may be all for free health care, but what about his other views? He may also be for killing people’s first born.

Hearing a few soundbites does not an informed descision make.

As for the whole draft issue, being old enough to take orders doesn’t mean you are old enough to make informed descisions.

Well, if we’re going to base this on personal experience, at 16 I had graduated high school and moved 3,000 miles from home to attend college. 17 years later my political beliefs are more nuanced but substantially the same. Why shouldn’t I have been allowed to vote then?

Read the whole post. I go on to point out that I think people should be tested. A young person who has educated themselves would potentally be ok.

You are aware that there used to be such tests in the U.S., and the reason why they were discarded, right?

My only thought on it was that kids tend to a we-are-the-world idealistic view of the world so the left of two parties would be most likely to benefit from such a change. At least in the short run.

Just to be clear, somehow you got your coding tags screwed up. It was chappachula, not me, who asked whether you’d want a sixteen-year-old on your jury.

I wouldn’t mind either. Or, rather, I wouldn’t mind having had a 16-year-old like myself on my jury; I would mind having plenty of thirty-year-olds that i know on my jury. Age ain’t got nothing to do with it.

The closest thing to a practical disadvantage to allowing 16-year-olds to vote is that it gives too much influence to Carson Daly. That is laughably ridiculous. As long as we live in a world in which adults take Rush Limbaugh’s political spewings seriously, we’re in no danger of Carson Daly degrading political discourse. If he urges teens to vote based on the radical nature of Howard Dean’s suits, he’ll still be improving the average political discourse.

However, I don’t think that’ll be the case. Teenagers who spend all their time interacting with pop culture aren’t going to be the ones at the polls: it’d be the kids who take politics seriously, who participate in different political activities, who vote. I would’ve jumped at the opportunity to vote when I was sixteen: by that age, I’d organized protests and petition drives, been arrested in an act of civil disobedience, and knew more about politics than probably three quarters of the adults who actually showed up at the voting booth.

Although a knowledge test is a nice idea, it’s ultimately unfair. One person=one vote, no exceptions. If someone else wants to choose their leader based on hairstyle, that’s their prerogative, and people who want to choose based on policy or character, they’ve got the right to do that too.

Nobody said democracy was pretty; all it can offer is fairness.


London_Calling, I’m not sure that’s completely true; I knew a fair number of idealistic libertarians in high school that were politically involved. They would’ve been voting for Republicans if they weren’t voting for Libertarians, most likely.


May I ask again, where do we impose the limit? Why 16? Why not 14?

In high school I and the (one!) other school lefty were regularly butting heads with some pretty serious Young Republicans. Not of the libertarian variety, either.