16: Too young to vote?

YouGov Election Poll

This week saw The Labour Party release a video promoting the issue of giving 16 year-olds the right to vote.

But is it too young to vote? This video in particular claims that at 16, you can get married, join the Army and work full-time; and as such should be able to vote as well. Unsurprisingly, The Labour Party would benefit from such an idea, with a recent YouGov poll finding that the younger a person, the more likely to vote for Labour. But is 16 too young to vote?

Life at 16

Ultimately, at 16, life is somewhat constricted as to what someone can do. Basing the argument in the largest country in the UK, England, at age 16, teens can’t marry or join the Army without parental permission. In addition to being required to be in education until 18 thereby prohibiting full time employment.

So can 16 year olds make informed political decisions, made independently of external pressures? There is basis for the argument that voters can easily be misled but, that argument is most likely applicable to all groups. Even though in general, the public is more trusting of TV and Radio for their political information than any other source according to the Audit of Political Engagement. There is still many deciding factors coming from parties as well as friends and personal contacts which can impact voting.

16 too young to vote?

The widespread argument against lowering the voting age, is centred around the concept of a lack of life experience allowing the individual to make informed decisions. For example, a 30 year old who has worked for 12 years full-time, paying taxes and contributing to the economy would have an equal vote to a 16 year old. Even though the 16 year old remains in education, works part-time and lives at home. Although the two do contribute to the economy it is not to the same extent. Therefore, their voting intentions could be wildly different. This also brings into question their eligibility to vote, but also all those who are not in employment over 18. However, many sectors of society, especially one as diverse as ours, where different groups contribute. An example of this is prisoners and those receiving benefits as their income.

The argument for lowering the voting age remains a divisive topic amongst individuals. Is 16 too young to vote?