Should we lower the voting age to 16?

As a co-facilitator along with Nicholas, I am curious as to what peoples' views are on lowering the voting age to 16. As we've posted on the Storify page for Elections, Scotland has recently decided to extend the vote to 16 and 17 year olds.

What do you think about extending the British vote to 16 and 17 year olds?

edited on Jan 28, 2015 by Nicholas Charalambides

Daniel Gaunt Apr 5, 2015

Yes, we should. 

In general, I'd suggest that the right to vote should be a single clause covering all the aspects - age, citizenship/residency, disqualifications, etc. 

John Z Apr 5, 2015

If this were to pass, should the age of adulthood also be changed to 16 or 17 years old also?  In other words, if a 16 year old is charged with a crime, would they be tried as an adult (instead as a juvenile)? 

Gavin Russ Apr 6, 2015

Quite simply John ...  Yes. Criminal Repsponsabilty depends on a whole set of social circumstances as appropriately assessed which are not always related to a 'number' in terms of age. Therefore, it follows that the right to vote might be assessed via education, via parenting, via responsible social education and other institutions. Not actually the age of criminal responabilty is a 'complete' reason for denying the right to vote for younger citizens who are probarely more able to use and engage with technologies that other citizens are less proficient at! 

Mark Cooke Apr 12, 2015

The argument for voting at 16 that persuaded me was that it is better for young people to acquire voting rights while their schools/colleges can engage them in the issue and encourage them to use their first vote.

This could be a significant factor in reducing the abstention rate among younger voters.   The exact age is not the primary issue,  this is not an age limit to protect young people (which is what most are for), and in practice many are several years older than the limit when they first get the opportunity to vote.

Rob G Apr 12, 2015

I don't understand why schools shouldn't be teaching full "civic engagement" from well before the age of 18, regardless of the voting age. Setting a voting age to encourage the education system to do its work better seems to me to be putting the cart before the horse!

Lila Kelso Apr 16, 2015

Hi everyone,

Thank you so much for your contributions to the discussion! As we've moved on to the refining phase (meaning that lowering the voting age to 16 was an idea accepted by more users than rejected), I was wondering if users want to start crafting the language that they wished to see written about this proposal. How would we want to word this addition to a new constitution? As John from Jersey has noted, what age specifically do we wish to enshrine in the constitution? How should an adult be defined in this context? If someone wants to write a draft, that would be great!