On the pulse: Should the voting age be lowered to 16?

At 16 you can legally join the armed forces, start a family and leave home – but what you can’t do in the UK is vote. 

That privilege is saved until you’re 18 when you can also legally buy cigarettes, fireworks and knives and go on a sunbed.  

Apart from the Scottish referendum when 16 and 17-year-olds were allowed to vote – which saw a record-breaking 84.6% turnout.  

The voting age in the UK hasn’t changed in nearly 50 years since the Representation of People Act 1969 lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 with effect from 1970. But is that right or outdated? 

We took to the streets of Wimbledon to get the public’s opinion on whether the voting age should be lowered to 16.  

And they were no help at all. Of the 52 people we surveyed, 26 said ‘yes’ and 26 said ‘no’. 

Wimbledon fashion student Jasmine, 17, sided in favour of lowering the voting age. 

She said: “It’s their future that’s being voted on, it’s the younger generation who will be directly affected by the decisions, you can serve your country at 16 and should have the right to vote.”

This view was echoed by 16-year-old Sutton student Kendra Duggan. 

“If you can get married, buy a lottery ticket and do so many other things then why not be able to have a voice,” she protested. 

However, not all young people believe they should be entitled to vote. 

“As a young person I know the majority of 16 and 17-year-olds don’t have the maturity to vote responsibly,” said 17-year-old George Mogomu. 

Wimbledon resident Malcolm Pearce, 69, thought otherwise. 

“When I was growing up, Britain was deciding whether to join the EU, and at 14 I felt like me and my friends were capable of voting so why not at 16?” he said.  

On the other hand 41-year-old Wimbledon resident Mark Mayungu thinks 16 is too young to vote. 

“When you’re older and have a job and responsibilities then you should be able to – when you understand taxes and paying your way – why let someone make that decision so young,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Brenda Cannon, 69, a grandmother from Morden, was a bit on the fence. 

“My granddaughter is young but also very educated in politics so I think she would be able to vote because she has the knowledge, whereas others her age might not.” 

Featured image courtesy of secretlondon123 via Flickr, with thanks

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