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Should everyone be able to vote at 16?

04th-11th November 2022

Back to results overview

45313

Total votes

14889

5-11 votes

30424

11-16+ votes

To celebrate the events taking place as part of UK Parliament Week this month, our voters explored a significant issue of their own. They considered whether the current voting age for general elections and English and Northern Irish local elections should be lowered from 18 to 16. Interestingly, local Scottish and Welsh elections have a voting age of 16 already in place.

What did young people have to say?

Primary school

Berkshire

" We should be able to vote at 16 because our futures are affected by these votes for a long time and at 16 we know enough.”

Secondary school

Surrey

"At 16 you can have a job and pay taxes but not vote on where those taxes get spent. Young people need to be educated about voting and politics in more detail to ensure they don't make snap decisions if allowed to vote at 16."

College

West Yorkshire

"Some 16 year olds are responsible enough to vote, but some are not. Education on politics would help to increase the empowerment and ability for 16 year olds to vote. It would be more useful than certain parts of Maths and English."

Alongside our main VoteTopic question this week, we also asked our schools some additional questions to get a better understanding of how they feel about voting at 16.

Would you use the vote if you had it from the age of 16?

  • Almost 70% of our 11-16 year old students said they would vote if given the opportunity from age 16.
  • Over 60% of our 16+ students agreed.

Do you think 16 and 17 year olds know enough to vote on key issues?

  • By comparison, just 42% of 11-16 year olds felt 16 and 17 year olds knew enough to vote on key issues.
  • Similarly, 60% of 5-11 year old thought they didn't know enough about voting to do it themselves.
  • "We aren't taught enough about politics in school to form an opinion." Greater London Secondary school

We also asked our 11+ aged students the following question: Which of these would you like to see in schools? They had to choose one option from the list below.

1. Fewer lessons on politics in general

2. Lessons from political organisations or parties

3. Lessons providing balanced information about politics and voting

4. Visits from and discussions with politicians

  • Over 70% of 16+ and over half of 11-16 year olds chose 'lessons providing balanced information on politics and voting'.
  • This suggests that young people feel they lack the knowledge required to vote in an informed way because they are receiving most of their political information from outside the school environment.
  • Our results show they are keen to receive a richer political education within a school setting so that they have a sufficiently balanced understanding of political issues and how voting works.

Is it fair that different parts of the UK have different voting ages?

  • 63% of 5-11 year olds believed it was unfair that different parts of the UK have different voting ages.
  • In Wales and Scotland, 16 and 17 year olds already have the right to vote in local elections.
  • 5-11 year olds were most interested in voting on issues relating to the environment and education.

Overall results

Where do we go from here?

Education, education, education. Over 45,000 young people voted on this topic and many more were involved in discussions and debates about lowering the voting age to 16 in their classrooms. They have shown a great desire to be educated in more depth and in an impartial manner in schools following concerns that they are currently learning about politics through potentially unreliable social media posts and their parent's personal views.

Our Secondary and College vote didn't have a landslide result, however more students voted 'No' to the question "Should everyone be able to vote at 16?". Their comments, along with the results from our additional questions this week suggests that they are not confident in their current understanding of political issues. Ultimately, this shows that the next step for schools is to ensure that they have a comprehensive and balanced political education included in their curriculums.