The National Youth Agency has reacted with dismay to the
Electoral Commission’s recommendation that the minimum age
for voting should remain at 18.
The Commission threw out the proposal despite the fact that a
majority of responses to its consultation favoured voting at 16. It
also rejected alternative options including voting at 16 in local
elections only and pilot schemes for a lower minimum age.
It recommends that the minimum age for standing as a candidate in
an election should be reduced from 21 to 18, but says there is
insufficient justification for a change at present in the minimum
Campaigners have pointed out that 16 year olds are expected to pay
tax, and allowed to join the armed forces and marry.
Tom Wylie, chief executive of the National Youth Agency, said:
“This refusal to propose reducing the voting age will draw a
further divide between young people and the democratic process.
Politicians will continue to be able to sideline the needs and
concerns of younger votes and to play to an adult gallery about the
anti-social behaviour of the few.
“The young car mechanic we trust to fit our tyres correctly
still will not have a say on how the taxes on his or her still too
meagre wages are spent.”
Twenty year old Ashley Sweetland, co-chair of the trustees of the
UK Youth Parliament, said: “This is dreadful news and we
believe it fails to reflect the views of the majority of this
country’s young people. Being able to vote – actually
putting the cross in the box – is being denied to young
people, failing to acknowledge the rights and responsibilities that
young people already have. What is the point of the citizenship