British Government considers lowering voting age to 16

In the US, eighteen-year olds can vote for President, enter into any legal contract, fight and die in the military…but cannot drink alcoholic beverages.

Go figure.

Alternatively, why 18? Why not 21? It’s going to be an arbitrary limit anyway - 16 being an age where one can drive, leave school, work and marry in a lot of states seems to me to be a reasonable enough place to impose it.

Maybe, maybe. I suppose I don’t really know . . . If I think back I’d guess that as many 16-year olds would vote the way they did becasue they copied their parents. But times change . . . I just don’ t know so I’ll butt out.

Didn’t I cover this? I was under the impression that 18 was considered an adult. Adult court, no requirement on parents to provide for the 18 year old, etc. etc.

Why was 21 considered legal for voting? No idea, but I’d love to hear it.

Sorry ruadh, I missed the rest of your post. I’d say that the adult responsibilities and obligations are slowly handed over to teenagers. The final obligation/responsibility, to vote, arrives after the previous ones, and indicates the teen is now a full adult citizen.

Which adult obligations and responsibilities precede the vote? The things I listed, I would consider rights or privileges.

Damn. Sorry. It’s redundant to say obligation/responsibilities. I did mean privileges/responsibilities.

Shrug. I’m simply saying that adulthood is a reasonable criterion for voting. If we want to drop the age of adulthood, I’d likely have problems with that too, but the right to vote, in my opinion, should follow.

Aside from people saying “why not, I was mature at 16” I haven’t heard any good reasons to change the voting age.

I agree that adulthood is a reasonable criterion. I just don’t think it’s the only reasonable criterion. One could just as easily say that adulthood is a reasonable criterion for being allowed to finish school, marry, etc. At the end of the day it’s just another arbitrary number.

Well then why should a person which the law considers a dependant on an adult, get to vote on the rights of adults? Don’t forget, at 16 your parents have a legal obligation to provide for you. At 16 you are a dependant, at 18 you’re not.

The idea of someone not in full possession of the rights and obligations that come with the vote/adulthood being able to affect change on those very rights and obligations is disturbing.

I’m not sure that I’ve been clear, but there you go.

I remember being 16, too, sghoul. I remember reading the paper every day and having heated political discussions with my family and friends. Just because you were politically ignorant doesn’t mean that all teenagers are.

Those of you favor raising the voting age past 18, do you also favor making parents legally responsible for their children until they reach that age? Voting rights should come when one is legally considered an adult, be that 16 or 18. One shouldn’t be an adult citizen and denied the vote.

I really don’t know much about Britain, but even just looking at the U.S., I think that the voting age should remain at 18. It would not be fair to raise this age because people who are legally considered to be adults and subject to the law, etc.,as adults should be able to have a say in that law. However, as a sixteen-year-old, I really do not think that 16-year-olds should have the right to vote. Of those that actually bothered going to the polls, a good many base their votes not on their own opinions but on those of their parents: either following the lead of the parents or, if they were feeling rebellious, picking the opposing candidate simple because their parents picked the other one.

What about the politicians themselves? Will they begin to slant their outlines to appeal to 16 year olds? Will we see campaign strategies that say: Education, Repaying the Debt, Reducing Homework?
16 year olds are still an impressionable bunch. Advertising could easily lead them to believe that the candidate with the cool commercials is the best bet. Not all of them would be swayed, but their would be a fair amount. Voting could easily become a fad, and everyone would vote for the most popular instead of the most able. Speculation of course, but I think it’s more likely to happen with 16 year olds than 20-25 year olds.
Personally my thought is that voting age should be 21. However, anyone 14 or older is elligable to take a Political Awareness test that basically whether they understand the concepts of the democratic process, you understand what the major parties stand for, you are able to pick apart arguements in order to determine purpose and so on. Passing the test and paying a fee makes you a licensed voter. The fee and test would deter deadbeats and make sure that the voter is at least somewhat educated on the subject of election. I’m not saying at 21 you magically gain this knowledge, but 21 is just an arbitrary age when (at least I hope) people have figured everything out on their own.

Thanks for sharing your bias with us. I hope you’ll have more to add in the future than “I don’t trust those darn young’uns.”

Neither is voting. It’s an option that someone may choose to exercise, just like the powers that be may choose to try a minor as an adult.

It doesn’t work as the only criteria. IMO it works just fine as one of several.

My underlying principle here is that a democratic government derives its legitimacy from the consent of the governed. “No taxation without representation” wasn’t just about paying a few bucks to the king, it was about being subject to a government you have no control over. IMO anyone who is subject to the government deserves a say in how that government operates, and who runs it - otherwise there is no democracy.

Now, some people are incapable of understanding the issues and making an informed choice, and those people shouldn’t be voting - but neither should they be held to the same standards as a person who can vote. It’s OK to deny a five-year-old the vote, because he doesn’t have to pay taxes, can’t be charged with a crime in his own name, etc.

But teenagers are subject to the law, and while you can argue that teenagers today aren’t informed enough to make a good decision today, you’d have a very hard time arguing they’re inherently not capable of voting. A 16 year old who breaks the law is charged and sentenced himself - his parents aren’t responsible for most of what he does. A 16 year old who works has to give up a big chunk of his paycheck.

Many laws, such as curfews, restricted drivers’ licenses, and minimum ages to buy tobacco and alcohol, are written specifically to prohibit teenagers from doing things that are legal for adults to do. Minors’ wishes are never taken into account when passing those laws, because politicians don’t have to worry about losing minors’ votes. You’ll never see a curfew law that requires everyone under 25 to stay inside after 10 PM, even though it’d be more effective at stopping crime than a curfew for minors… because 18-25 year olds can vote.

That’s the imbalance I want to correct: A group being restricted more and more by the law each year, because they’re shut out of the democratic process. I can think of a few ways to correct it, but the one actually being considered is to lower the voting age.

Well then, you’d say the same thing about Rush Limbaugh, Michael Moore, or Bill O’Reilly, right?

This argument always seems to come up: “Minors will just vote for their favorite pop star, or whoever promises less homework and more candy.”

Bull! For every hypothetical candidate who minors would vote for simply because of some trivial issue, with no concern for his stance on more important issues, there’s a real candidate who adults have voted for simply because of tax cuts, religion, or how good he looks on TV. For every popular young talking head who has never stated a political opinion, but hypothetically might, there’s a popular adult talking head who tells his viewers how to vote every day.

Ah, my mistake. Sorry. And kudos for making the Carson vs. Rush point before I did. :slight_smile:

What makes you think you, as a 16 year old, aren’t subject to the law?

I haven’t been posting in the voting age threads but I have been debating it with myself and this is the most sensible thing I have seen on the topic. Opinions of acceptable maturity could range as high as a voting age of fifty or more years old. ( I dimly recall a scifi story where a planet settled by the elderly had an even higher age limit for full political rights. ) Political IQ is just as variable. Someone could write a test everyone on the SDMB would flunk. ( Sorry, no dice. How can anyone be expected to have an understanding of politics especially here in Philadelphia if they aren’t aware of the election riot of 1742 or the quorum riot of 1787? Try again next year, gramps. )

The “One person, one vote” standard isn’t quite as variable though still somewhat arbitrary. I would put the cutoff at about 14 myself. It also has the advantage in the participation in decisions that effect the individual category since everyone is subject to the law no matter their age or mental faculties.

Thanks LHoD.

18 year olds can “die for our country”; but on a volunteer basis, the relationship between the draft and voting was severed quite a while ago.

The problem with letting “everyone” vote is a clear conflict of interest - those who pay no income tax probably tend to vote for politicians who promise free goodies. Maybe an oversimplification, but generally quite true. We don’t allow “ex” felons to vote for some good reasons - in some states, judges are elected. Those of the criminal persuasion ought not to decide who judges are. The same principle ought to apply, although I don’t expect what’s best for our country to be very popular. Hence, we’ll have to put up with ever and more absurdities to common decency as time goes by, including 16 year olds at the polls. Be very afraid.

Legal rights for 16 year olds
Legal rights for 18 year olds

Thought these may be useful guides to understand a 16 yo’s existing rights in the UK, compared to those at 18.
Nothing else to add at the moment.

Firstly this is weapons grade Blairwank. Like the rest of his “ideas” it appears to have been thought up during a heated debate in the Fettes Junior Common Room. (remember marching yobs to cashpoints?). THese things rarely come to anything.

However there is a good case for rationalising all the various age restrictions eg:

16, have a shag (of any flavour - gay or straight), buy a lottery ticket ride a small motor bike

  1. ride a bigger motorbike, drive a car, see active service in the forces.

  2. Buy beer, stand a resonable chance of getting a shag, drive a small lorry, go in a betting shop. Vote

I think 16 is a bit too young - but I wouldn’t let anyone under 40 vote. Maybe let them vote in local and euro polls first?

16 year olds are too idealist.

Give 'em a couple of years for the cynisism to creep in before you expose them to politicians :slight_smile:

I believe it is actually eighteen for homosexuals.

There was talk of changing it to sixteen but it has stayed at eighteen.

Nah it’s sixteen whatever team you bat for. There was a time when it was 16/18 depending on one’s preference.

It’s 17 in Northern Ireland - again wherever you’re sticking it and with whomsoever you are sticking it into.

There may be places like the Isle of Man that have different rules though.