An opportunity to allow votes at 16?
Author: Zoe Stavri
Published on Oct 01, 2012
Yesterday it was revealed that the deal on how the Scottish independence referendum will work is expected imminently, and that it is likely to include a provision that allows 16- and 17-year olds to vote in the referendum.
This is good news for democracy, opening up making a key decision to a group of young people who are not usually granted a voice at the ballot boxes. The Scottish independence referendum is a huge issue- it will decide the very future of the United Kingdom, and whether the country continues to exist in its present form or turns into something completely different.
If we’re trusting 16- and 17-year olds with a decision of this magnitude, it seems a little unfair that they might not get a say in far more mundane matters- voting for MPs and local councillors, while important, seems small in comparison to the possible creation of a new country!
So if giving under-18s the right to vote in the Scottish independence referendum happens, this right needs to be extended. We can’t have a situation where young people can vote in a referendum, but can’t vote for who their MP is. Preparations must be made so that 16- and 17-year olds will be able to vote in the 2015 elections.
Furthermore, this should be rolled out across the country. It would not be fair if teens in one part of the country are able to vote, while others are not.
There are plenty of 16- and 17-year olds who are engaged and interested in the political process. This decision may be the impetus to finally allow them to vote.
For a response from our Director to this news, please see here.