At Researching Reform we make no bones about the fact that we are absolutely pro lowering the voting age to 16 for all public elections. In an era where information is so readily accessible, and our young men and women are more vocal than ever before about politics, we think allowing 16 year olds to vote is a great idea. Fostering responsibility and interest in their future and the destiny of the planet really can’t hurt, can it?
That’s what the Youth Select Committee wants to know. And you’re invited to submit your thoughts to them. In a news item on Parliament’s website published today, the Committee looks set to explore the following issues surrounding lowering the voting age to 16:
- Should the age at which people are allowed to vote be lowered? Why/why not? If yes, to what age?
- For what reasons is the voting age currently set at 18? What qualities mean that a person is ready to vote? Do 16 and 17-year-olds possess these qualities?
- Should the age at which people are able to vote vary between types of election? For example, should the voting age be different for local and General elections?
- What short term and long term effect would lowering the voting age have on voter turnout? Should the likely turnout of 16 and 17-year-old voters affect the decision on whether to lower the voting age?
- What can be learned from countries where the voting age is lower than 18 or where lowering the voting age has been proposed?
- What was the motivation for allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in the referendum on independence for Scotland? What can be learned from this example?
- What would the practical implications of lowering the voting age be?
- How effectively does citizenship education prepare young people to vote? How could it be used to prepare young people to vote?
- What is the best way to engage young people with the political process?
If you’re under 18, the Committee is particularly interested to know what you think about the following:
- Would you vote if the voting age was lowered to 16? Why/why not?
- Do you feel ready to make an informed decision about who to vote for? What would help you feel prepared to vote?
The call for evidence closes on 2nd May, 2014, so do go for it if you want to take part. We will certainly be sending in a submission.
Oral evidence sessions in the House of Commons on the topic will take place in June and July, 2014.
If you’d like to submit something, the Committee asks that you do before noon on 2nd May, 2014. Responses should be e-mailed firstname.lastname@example.org. The body of the e-mail should include a name and contact details. Further submissions guidelines are available to read here (see Call for Evidence – How to Respond section).
Evidence that is submitted will be published on the British Youth Council website.
Check out the Youth Select Committee website to learn more about these guys and girls.
No doubt the Committee are already aware of The Private Members’ Bill on the same topic floating through Parliament, although this appears to have stalled. Perhaps Lord Tyler, who sponsored the Bill, will look to get this moving as it is now going to be central to much debate over the next few weeks.
UPDATE: Added 20/03/14 Political and Constitutional Reform Committee take evidence on lowering the voting age, as well as young voter engagement, and hears from the President of the National Union of Students. The debate is well and truly rolling.