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Voting age is a centuries old question. Indeed who should be able to vote has been the centre of protests in the UK since Parliamentary democracy was clarified. Most recently, these discussions have centred around whether the UK should lower the voting age to 16.
Some nations of the UK, Scotland and Wales, have already included 16 and 17 year olds in the franchise for their Parliament and Assembly elections, respectively. But this has not been the case for the Westminster Parliament.
In November 2022, our voters considered all of the arguments about lowering the voting age to 16. This was included as part of our celebrations of UK Parliament Week, which is an annual event to publicise the work that Parliament does and how people can get involved!
" 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.”
"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."
"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?
Do you think 16 and 17 year olds know enough to vote on key issues?
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
Is it fair that different parts of the UK have different voting ages?
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.