In the U.K. we pride ourselves on being a democracy. A democracy in which everyone gets a vote and everyone’s vote is held equal. However this is most clearly not the case. This idea of universal suffrage is so important as part of the way our political system works yet there is a large group of people who are completely mentally capable and responsible enough to vote which are completely excluded. The group I am speaking about today are the 16-18 year olds.
To be fair, I know there is discussion as to whether they are responsible enough or mentally capable to vote so I will explain to you why they undeniably must be. We have decided that 16-18 year olds are responsible enough to join the army, become a director of a company, get married and face criminal charges. If we have decided that they are responsible enough to choose to do those things or have those things implemented on them, which will often have major impact upon them and others, what difference is there when it comes to voting.
This argument is not stating that at 16 we become adults and suddenly know everything and can know exactly what we will believe about the world for the rest of our lives. This argument is simply saying that at 16 another one of our rights should be being able to vote because at 16 we have already clearly decided through the responsibilities we have already given to 16 year olds that they are responsible enough.
In this way it is clear to me that all that not allowing the vote at 16 is is undemocratic and alienating towards the young people which only causes anger and upset which is not desireable especially when it comes to the many big political decisions that are made on behave of this age group when it will have a much larger impact on them and they have responsibility enough and opinions enough to vote.
Whilst you may be tempted to argue that young people are apathetic, this is simply not true. This was proved in Scotland where 75% of 16-24 year olds voted. This also brings me nicely onto my suggestion.
Obviously if votes at 16 where to be allowed it not be carried out just as that or in some reckless ‘who cares’ manner, there would be many systems put in place to help the votes at 16 to be successful. The most obvious of this to me is higher political education at school and inevitably with this an idea would be instilled among our young people. Simply that it is expected, whilst still not compulsory, for them to vote. This could be even more enhanced by schools possibly becoming polling stations, making it even easier and more likely for their sixth form students to vote. Then, because for this generation they will have begun voting from a young age and will see it as part of their duty to the country, they will carry on voting throughout their lives.
I believe, if this amendment is carried out right it can completely solve our current participation crisis.