With Welsh Labour looking to lower the voting age in Welsh elections, is it time we looked at allowing sixteen year olds to vote in general elections? Well Emily Thornberry thinks so, she brought up the topic at this weeks PMQs.
As a country we deem the age at which a person becomes an adult as eighteen. Whilst this is an arbitrary age it is pretty much universally recognised. Until that point the individual is considered a minor. Until you are 18 you are unable to do many things, get a tattoo, buy a drink or a cigarette, use a sunbed, get married without the consent of your parents, and be called for jury duty. Ironically quite a few of these were introduced by a Labour government, hypocrisy? However at 16 you are able to pay taxes, have sex, and get a provisional driving license.
Is is right that if you can’t yet legally be held to account for your actions as an adult, you should be able to vote and affect the country and not just yourself?
Is a 16 year old truly prepared to vote? Most 18 year olds don’t feel ready, as shown by turn out data. We fail to educate 18 year olds enough about their political system as it is. When I was 16 I would have said I felt prepared, but hindsight is a marvellous thing. Now I know I simply didn’t know enough, or understand the political systems well enough to make an informed decision.
When we are young we have impressionable minds that sway and change as we discover the new and exciting things the world has to offer. It is not until later in life after we have sufficient experience that our heads aren’t turned by misleading politicians. We are able to judge what we are told against a much larger wealth of experience and knowledge to discern its credibility.
It is clear 16 is an arbitrary age so why not 12,why not 10? It is when you ask these questions that you realise the absurdity of the question. If we have decided 18 is the age at which a person is responsible enough to get a tattoo, surely voting which requires more responsibility shouldn’t be done before then?