Councillors support lowering voting age to 16

Date published: 15 February 2018

The voting age should be lowered to 16 was the verdict of councillors  at Wednesday’s council meeting (14 February).

Youth Council member Louis Tweedale gave a presentation about the benefits of the voting age being lowered to 16, saying: “Young people need a voice and a vote at 16 gives them a chance to be heard.”

A motion supporting the 'Votes at 16 Campaign' was moved by Councillor Martin, as “16 and 17-year-olds are knowledgeable and passionate about the world in which they live, and are as capable of engaging in the democratic system as any other citizen”.

Amongst those supporting the statement were councillors across all three political parties: Keiran Heakin, Donna Williams, Neil Emmott, Irene Davidson, Ashley Dearnley, Billy Sheerin, Sara Rowbotham, Cecile Biant, Jane Howard and leader of the council Allen Brett.

Conservative leader Councillor Dearnley said: “It is the right thing to do to lower the voting age to 16.

"Young people are just as capable as anyone else to listen to the arguments and decide which way to vote.”

Councillor Howard added that she “trusts young people, who are the future of this country.”

Councillor Sheerin noted that younger people these days are much more informed and 16-year-olds should have the right to vote.

Councillor Cecile Biant agreed: “We can not stop young people wanting to get involved with politics and we should not stop them from voting.”

However, not all councillors supported the proposition, Conservative Councillor Mike Holly said the voting age should stay at 18.

He added: “I am worried about lowering the age, it is a judgement call, but I would leave it at 18."

Last year saw 10,997 votes cast locally for the Youth Cabinet and just under 10,000 votes for the Children’s Champion: significant figures which could make a difference to UK politics, should the age be lowered.

However, nationally, over 1.5 million 16 and 17-year-olds are currently denied the vote in the UK. 

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