Should 16 and 17 year olds be allowed to vote?

Carla Solo, February 22, 2018

(Photo Source: BBC)

I write this as a 32 year old woman, who considered a political career at the age of 15, and took AS Government and Politics at the age of 16-17. I think that 16 and 17 year olds should be allowed to vote. At the time of taking AS Politics, my 16 and 17 year old classmates and I were fully engaged in politics and could understand the issues that the country was facing. I do believe that people learn more as they get older, and experience can change a person’s perspectives in life – that certainly happened to me, as I got older, but that doesn’t mean my political views weren’t valid back when I was 16-17. Besides, adults change their minds all the time anyway, so 16 and 17 year olds are allowed to change their minds when they’re older, without it invalidating what their opinions were, when they were 16-17 years old.

(Photo Source: Charity Today)

I think that giving 16 and 17 year olds the vote, would not only entitle them to their rights, but it would also help them to exercise their responsibilities as citizens. We always say that we want 16 and 17 year olds to become more responsible, but how about we start giving them more responsibilities, such as the responsibility to vote? 16 and 17 year olds are allowed to work and pay taxes, but is it really fair to expect them to pay taxes, but not give them a say on who runs the country? 16 and 17 year olds are also allowed to join the military, but is it really fair that they can provide a national service, but not have a say on the decisions that the country makes? 16 and 17 year olds are allowed to independently move out of their parents’ and guardians’ homes, without parental permission, but why are they considered not independent enough to vote?

(Photo Source: NUS)

I think it’s very unfair that politicians seem to be looking down at 16 and 17 year olds, and treating them like they don’t have the intellectual ability to understand politics. Yes, there are some 16 and 17 year olds who don’t show interest in politics, but they would not be forced to vote, if they don’t want to. Why should we deny the ones who are engaged in politics, the right to vote? 16 and 17 year olds are old enough to take A Level Politics and discover more about the political world, but why are they considered not old enough to vote? 16 and 17 year olds also have their families, neighbours, teachers, and work colleagues to advise them what happened in politics in the past, so they can make an informed judgement. It’s not like they don’t talk to people or debate with those around them. We should be encouraging young people to get engaged in politics, instead of ignoring them. I think that some right wing MPs (especially some of those who voted to treble tuition fees and scrap maintenance grants for University students) may not want 16 and 17 year olds to vote, because they are worried that they would not cast their votes for them, but how is that democratic?

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