Recently MPs have been debating whether or not the voting age, currently at 18, should be reduced to 16. Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams, has brought up the debate, stating that it would enable 1.5 million 16 and 17-year-olds to vote. The Labour party and the Liberal Democrats are in favour of lowering the voting age, but the Conservatives are opposed.
However, quite surprisingly, many students believe that the voting age should be kept at 18.
In a poll on The Student Room Website:
- 79% said that the voting age should stay at 18.
- Only 21% said that the voting age should be lowered to 16.
Many students believe that 16 and 17-year-olds should not have the vote because they are not interested in political issues and current affairs. One TSR user, Rybee, makes this clear – he states that “In general, 16 year olds have no interest in politics and are not educated well enough in politics to make an informed vote.”
Another TSR user, simoncino, says that despite the existence of legal limits for 16-year-olds – marriage (with permission), sex, paying taxes, getting a full-time job, etc – this is not enough to justify lowering the voting age.
He says, “I am in favour of the voting age being at 18 because this is a very symbolic cut off point. It is the age of adulthood and full acceptance ofresponsibility for your actions in society. Yes, a 16 year old may be able to marry and have children, but once again I fail to see why this in any shape or form justifies participation in an election.”
However there are some disagreements among students. TSR user, The Epicurean believes that the common assumption that young people are ignorant about politics is general stereotyping.
He says: “Those who are 16 and aren’t interested in politics will most likely not vote. Those who are interested and do understand will get to vote. Ignorance to politics is not something that is limited to 16 and 17 year olds only. There are so many older people who are also completely ignorant. I think there is too much negativity towards young people and everyone assumes that they are all uneducated and ignorant. I wouldn’t agree with this and I think that there are many intelligent 16 year old more than capable of making good political decisions.”
The majority of students believe that the voting age should not be lowered, but this is on the basis of the belief that many young people are ignorant of politics and world issues, which is not always true. While the debate on the voting age continues in Parliament, it seems to be the case that many students are already decided on the outcome: the voting age should stay at 18.