EU referendum: UK result would have been Remain had votes been allowed at 16

Young people questioning why votes at 16 were allowed in the 2014 Scottish referendum as our new research reveals 16-17 year olds would’ve voted remain.

16 and 17 year olds could have swung the EU Referendum had they been allowed to vote, with 82% voting remain on online forum The Student Room.

There are 1.46 million 16-17 year olds in the UK and with 82% voting remain, that number would match the 1.2 million difference between the leave and remain votes. Potentially changing the result completely.  Raising the question – should the voting age be lowered?

Over 70% of 18-24 year olds voted to remain in the EU referendum yesterday, which meant the leave result was largely swung by the over 60s demographic. The poll by The Student Room, the world’s largest online student community, reveals young people want to remain in the EU and could have changed the result if the voting age were lowered.

Jack Wallington, community director at The Student Room says “It’s unacceptable that such a large number of our younger generation were ignored in the EU referendum. Despite the fact they are legally able to work full-time and consent to sex as adults, they are the people who will live with the result decided for them the longest.

Our poll shows 82% of 16-17 year olds and 71% of 18-24’s wanted to remain in the EU. If the voting age had been lowered to 16, there could have been a very different outcome today. As per the Scottish referendum in 2014, where the voting age was lowered for 16 and 17 year olds, we believe the UK should have done the same. Views of our younger generations cannot be overlooked when the impact is to so disproportionately affect them.

The time has come to seriously discuss the age of voters in the UK and the result of this week’s referendum.”

A petition calling for a second referendum which has well over 3 million signees means it will be put to parliament. Should a second referendum happen The Student Room would call for the voting age to be lowered to 16.

Jack continues “We predict the UK will return to the EU within 20 years when younger generations are of a legal age to vote and outnumber older voters. If it was down to them we would vote remain and The Student Room believes they have a right to vote and shape their own futures.”

Quotes from The Student Room users:

“It’s very frustrating for me as a 17 year old to see decisions being made by people who will honestly die within the next 10 years while I am unable to have a say. The future belongs to us, the youth.”

“I have to say I agree with you there, my entire family voted out but if I had the chance I would have voted in. I really think if they gave 16-18 year olds the education about the referendum (the pros and cons, impacts etc) then the result could have almost definitely gone the other way.”

“I think people seriously underestimate 16 year olds and their capabilities. 16 is when we complete core secondary education, when we can work and contribute taxes, and take on numerous more responsibilities.”

“I’m 16. I would have loved to vote. I mean nearly all the 16 year olds I know wanted to vote for remain”


For more information on this story, interviews, data and case studies, get in touch.

Our research covered in:

The Independent here
Ri5 here
Eastern Daily Press here
Norwich Evening News here

*The Student Room polled 1,200 students – 24/06/16