020 7250 8377 votesat16@byc.org.uk
Campaign History

There have been many significant milestones in the history of

Votes at 16 campaign

We hope we’ll be able to add ‘voting age lowered to 16’ to this list soon! Meanwhile, find out more about campaign origins and progress in our campaign timeline below.


18th November 2015

Labour and Liberal Democrat peers joined forces to back Votes at 16 in the EU referendum Bill. An amendment led by Baroness Morgan of Ely, Lord Tyler, Lord Hannay of Chiswick and Lord Tugendhat for Votes at 16 was been accepted in the EU Referendum Bill. Peers defied the House of Commons when 293 Lords voted in favour of the amendment and 211 voted against it. The decision would later be overturned in December 2015, when the Bill returned to the House of Lords in the Ping Pong.

11th September 2015

The Votes at 16 Private Member’s Bill, proposed by Vicky Foxcroft MP, had its second reading in the House of Commons.

July 2015

Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales, Dame Rosemary Butler AM, launched a report where more than half of young people in Wales said they wanted the voting age lowered to 16. The #Vote16Wales consultation received more than 10,000 responses from 11 to 25-year-olds across Wales – the biggest ever response to an Assembly consultation.

15th July 2015

An amendment led by Lord Tyler for ‪Votes at 16 was approved in the Cities and Devolution Bill. 221 Lords voted yes and 154 voted no. This was later voted down in the House of Commons.

18th June 2015

With Cross-Party support on the Votes at 16, Members of Scottish Parliament unanimously voted to ensure 16 and 17-year olds now have a permanent voice on all issues. The Scottish Elections (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill will lower the voting age to 16 from spring 2016 onwards for Scottish Parliament and local government elections.

June 2015

MPs showed their support for the Votes at 16 Campaign by attending a photo call on the College Green. You can view the pictures here

2015

March | The Votes at 16 Coalition reports that 15 local councils now support Votes at 16. The following are in favour : Peterborough Council, Birmingham City Council, Bolton Council, Oldham Council, Reading Borough Council, Barnsley Council, Highlands Council, Kent County Council, Manchester City Council, Redcar & Cleveland Council, Lewisham Council, Bury Council, Oxford City Council, Milton Keynes Council and Crawley Council.

27th February | As part of the St David’s Day announcement the Government has committed to the devolution of wide ranging powers to Wales relating to elections to the National Assembly for Wales and local government elections in Wales. This will include powers to decide the franchise for those elections, including the ability to lower the voting age to 16 if the Assembly wished to do so.

2014

15th December | Prime Minister David Cameron agrees to give the Scottish Parliament the power to lower the voting age in time for the 2016 election. The process of transferring the power to set the voting age in Scottish Parliament elections is in process.

11th November | Liberal Democrat Peers (led by Lord Tyler) moved amendments at the Committee Stage of the Wales Bill, arguing both for Votes at 16 in Welsh Assembly elections and in any referendum on tax-raising powers.

5th November | The Youth Select Committee (YSC) launched a report on ‘Lowering the Voting Age to 16’. The enquiry, conducted by a mixture of young leaders and elected representatives, considered both written and oral evidence over a 6 month period and concluded that the right to vote should be extended to those aged 16 and 17. The Youth Select Committee (YSC) is a British Youth Council initiative, supported by the House of Commons.

18th September | In Scotland, 16 and 17-year-olds voted in the Scottish Independence referendum, marking the first time the vote has been extended to 16- and 17-year-olds in the UK. The Scottish Independence Referendum saw 80% of 16 and 17 year olds register to vote and 75% turnout to vote.

2013

9th May | Lord Tyler introduced a Bill to the House of Lords calling for the voting age to be lowered. The Bill is called “Voting Age (Comprehensive Reduction) Bill” and has now been ordered to print.

15th April | The Takoma Park City Council has a city charter amendment on the table that would lower the current voting age of 18 and allow 16- and 17-year olds to vote in the city’s elections. The council passed the first reading of a resolution that included the amendment, among others relating to the city’s voting and elections laws. The amendment would go into effect after the resolution passes a second reading.

11th March | A bill that would see the voting age reduced for the upcoming Scottish Independence Referendum has been formally brought to Parliament. Ministers from the Scottish National Party said it would ensure that everyone aged 16 and over on the day of the 2014 referendum vote could take part.

24th January | Stephen Williams MP lead a historic debate in the House of Commons on extending the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds. The motion submitted, which stated that, “This House believes that the age of eligibility for voting in all elections and referenda in the United Kingdom should be reduced to 16”, won a vote in the Commons with 119 voting in favour, and 46 against.

2012

18th December | Julie Elliot MP secured a debate in Westminster Hall on votes for 16 and 17 year-olds. Ms Elliott said that the Scottish Government’s proposal to extend the franchise for the referendum on Scottish independence to 16 and 17 year-olds had ‘reignited the issue of votes at 16 at a national level.’

She continued:
With that in mind, it seems the right time to reconsider lowering the voting age to 16 in all elections and referendums held in the UK.

7th November | The Northern Ireland Assembly joins Scotland and Wales in sending clear message to Westminster that the voting age should be lowered. 51 MLAs backed a notion proposed by Megan Fearon of Sinn Fein – Stormont’s youngest member – and the Green Party’s Stephen Agnew, with both nationalist parties, the Ulster Unionists and the Alliance, amongst those in favour.

1st November | Argentina joins a (slowly but surely) growing list of Countries to extend the right to vote to 16 and 17 year olds. The bill passed with an overwhelming majority of 131 to two.

22nd October | Following the Scottish agreement Lord Tyler announces The Voting Age (Comprehensive Reduction) Bill which would extend the right to vote to 16 and 17 year olds in all elections and referenda in the United Kingdom. He argues that “It isn’t good enough for Scots young people to be heard, just once, on this vital question, and then ignored thereafter, and worse still that English, Welsh and Northern Irish young people will continue not having a say at all.”

15th October | David Cameron and Alex Salmond sign a deal that will not only see Scotland vote on its independence but will also extend the right to vote on this issue to 16 and 17 year olds. The hope for Votes at 16 supporters is that this paves the way for 16 and 17 year olds to vote in all future elections and referendums.

4th July | The Welsh Assembly demonstrated their support for Votes at 16 by voting in favour of lowering the voting age. Although the assembly has no powers to change the law, AMs in favour of votes at 16 say the institution should send a positive message about young people’s involvement in the democratic process.

25th January | The Scottish Government launched a consultation ‘Your Scotland, Your referendum’ to find out what people think the ballot paper for the Scottish referendum should say, and also who should be able to vote in this referendum. Question 7 is on votes at 16: “What are your views on extending the franchise to those aged 16 and 17 years who are eligible to be registered on the electoral register?”

2011

22nd May | German city-state of Bremen for the first time in their nation’s history will allow 16 year olds to cast ballots in their state elections after the local government decided to lower the voting age from the nationwide standard of 18.

5 April | Votes at 16 coalition launch a new interactive website, with a supporters map, to showcase the work Votes at 16 campaigners across the UK.

9 March | In Canada, a private member’s bill (a bill introduced in the House of Commons by a Candian Member of Parliament who is not a cabinet minister) is put forward to lower the voting age from 18 to 16.

2010

14 December | Peers speak warmly in favour of Votes at 16 in a debate about the referendum on whether to change the voting system. Read the news article here.

19 October | Almost 200 opposition MPs vote in favour of 16 and 17 year olds being allowed to vote in the referendum on whether to change the voting system to the AV [alternative vote] system. This is the first time large numbers of Labour MPs have voted in support of 16 and 17 year olds having voting rights. Read the news article here.

April | The Liberal Democrats confirm in their General Election manifesto their policy to extend right to vote to 16 and 17 year olds, which has been reiterated since 2001 (read here – see page 88). The Labour Party says it will give a free vote to MPs on the matter (when MPs don’t have to follow the party line on an issue) but only following improved citizenship education. Read the news article here.

2009

12 May | Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson puts forward an Early Day Motion (a motion to raise an issue in the House of Commons) on votes at 16 to commemoratethe 40th anniversary on 12 May 2009 of the lowering of the voting age from 21 to 18 years. It receives 44 signatures. Read the news article here.

17 April | The Youth Citizenship Commission (YCC) publishes the results of its public consultation on whether the voting age should be reduced to 16. It finds strong views on both sides, though more responses support for Votes at 16. It recommends that this matter be decided by political processes and politicians rather than by an independent commission. A number of respondents to the consultation cite international human rights law in support of extending the franchise. The YCC states ‘To be fully informed on these issues, the YCC has sought the Government’s position on these international rights’. It backs the Government’s view that a blanket exclusion is justified. Read the news article here.

18 March | The Scottish Nationalist Party says 16 and 17 year olds will be entitled to vote in the independence referendum. Read the news article here.

2008

20 October | 16 and 17 year-olds vote in Jersey for the first time. Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams puts forward an Early Day Motion (a motion to raise an issue in the House of Commons) on Votes at 16 in reaction. It achieves 28 signatures. Read the news article here.

28 September | Austria makes history, as the first national in the European Union to implement Votes at 16, as 16 and 17 year olds vote in national elections.

13 June | The Scottish Government has called for the voting age to be lowered to 16 and demanded the powers from Westminster to implement the change in Scotland, and announces that they will introduce a Bill that will allow 16 and 17 year olds to be full members of local health boards. Read the news article here.

8 June | The Labour MP, Julie Morgan, introduces a Private Member’s Bill, the Voting Age Reduction Bill. This is discussed in the House of Commons but MPs ran out of time to vote on whether they favoured Votes at 16. This was due to MPs ‘talking out the Bill’ by preferring to discuss issues around Votes at 16 rather than vote on it. Read the news article here.

29 February | The UK Government announces a Youth Citizenship Commission that focus on young people aged 11 to 19. The Commission is tasked with examining what citizenship means to young people, considering how to increase young people’s participation in politics and the development of citizenship among disadvantaged groups, and thinking how active citizenship can be promoted through volunteering and community engagement. The Commission is also asked to lead a consultation on whether the voting age should be lowered to 16.

7 February | The Welsh Assembly passed a vote in favour of votes at 16 by a margin of 44 to 4, with 3 absentions. This motion was put forward by Kirsty Williams AM (Brecon and Radnorshire), Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats. However, the Assembly has no power to bring the policy into effect as this is a power of the UK Parliament.

2008

20 October | 16 and 17 year-olds vote in Jersey for the first time. Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams puts forward an Early Day Motion (a motion to raise an issue in the House of Commons) on Votes at 16 in reaction. It achieves 28 signatures. Read the news article here.

28 September | Austria makes history, as the first national in the European Union to implement Votes at 16, as 16 and 17 year olds vote in national elections.

13 June | The Scottish Government has called for the voting age to be lowered to 16 and demanded the powers from Westminster to implement the change in Scotland, and announces that they will introduce a Bill that will allow 16 and 17 year olds to be full members of local health boards. Read the news article here.

8 June | The Labour MP, Julie Morgan, introduces a Private Member’s Bill, the Voting Age Reduction Bill. This is discussed in the House of Commons but MPs ran out of time to vote on whether they favoured Votes at 16. This was due to MPs ‘talking out the Bill’ by preferring to discuss issues around Votes at 16 rather than vote on it. Read the news article here.

29 February | The UK Government announces a Youth Citizenship Commission that focus on young people aged 11 to 19. The Commission is tasked with examining what citizenship means to young people, considering how to increase young people’s participation in politics and the development of citizenship among disadvantaged groups, and thinking how active citizenship can be promoted through volunteering and community engagement. The Commission is also asked to lead a consultation on whether the voting age should be lowered to 16.

7 February | The Welsh Assembly passed a vote in favour of votes at 16 by a margin of 44 to 4, with 3 absentions. This motion was put forward by Kirsty Williams AM (Brecon and Radnorshire), Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats. However, the Assembly has no power to bring the policy into effect as this is a power of the UK Parliament.

2007

5 December | Labour MP Julie Morgan puts forward an Early Day Motion (a motion to raise an issue in the House of Commons) on Votes at 16. It receives 111 signatures. the EDM can be read here.

27 October | The Scottish National Party passes resolution at its annual conference in support of Votes at 16. Read more here.

2006

19 April | Peers reject an amendment from Lord Livsey of Talgarth, Liberal Democrat Peer, to the Electoral Administration Bill that would extend the vote to 16 and 17 year olds (43 votes in favour; 218 against.) Read the debate here.

27 February | The Power Inquiry, chaired by Labour Peer Helena Kennedy QC, recommends extending the franchise to 16 and 17 year-olds. Read the full report here.

January | 80 young people make the case for Votes at 16 when meeting the Minister for Women and Equality, then Harriet Harman MP, and other MPs in Parliament.

2005

29 November | The Liberal Democrat MP, Stephen Williams, introduces a Private Member’s Bill, Representation of the People (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill. 128 MPs support the Bill and 136 vote against it. Read the debate here.

18 October | Labour MP, Diana Johnson, tables an Early Day Motion (a motion to raise an issue in the House of Commons) calling on the Government to use the Electoral Administration Bill to legislate to lower the voting age to 16 for all public elections in the UK. The EDM receives 109 signatures. The EDM can be read here.

2004

19 April | The Electoral Commission recommends following a consultation that the UK’s minimum age for voting should stay at 18. However, the majority of the 7,500 responses it received to a consultation were in favour of lowering the voting age to 16. The Electoral Commission recommends that the minimum candidacy age should be lowered from 21 to 18.

9 March | SNP MP, Angus Robertson, calls for Parliament to vote for for the Government to legislate to reduce the voting age, rather than just note the Electoral Commission’s review. 346 MPs vote against this call, and 50 vote in favour. The debate can be read here.

2003

13 February | Liberal Democrat MP, Matthew Green, puts forward an Early Day Motion (a motion to raise an issue in the House of Commons) to mark the creation of the Votes at 16 coalition. The EDM can be read here.

23 January | The Votes at 16 coalition is launched in Parliament. Read more here.

9 January | The Conservative Peer, Lord Lucas, introduces a Private Member’s Bill, the Voting Age (Reduction to 16) Bill. The Bill passed through the lords but no Parliamentary time was made for it in the Commons. Read the debate here.

2002

4 July | It is announced that the Electoral Commission are going to review whether the voting age should be lowered to 16. The Commission on Local Government Electoral Arrangements in Wales – an independent review set up by the Welsh Cabinet – announces support of the lowering of the voting age to 16. Read more here.

2001

Representatives of the Young People’s Rights Network meet with the Electoral Reform Society to discuss jointly campaigning for Votes at 16.

14 April | The Liberal Democrats party is the first UK political party to publicly support extending the franchise to 16 and 17 year-olds in all public elections. The Manifesto can be read here.

2000

CRAE arranges meeting for young people from the British Youth Council, Children’s Express, the Office of the Children’s Rights Commissioner for London, the National Black Youth Forum and the UK Youth Parliament to discuss shared goals. The Young People’s Rights Network is subsequently established and Votes at 16 is top of their campaign list.

September | The Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) publishes ‘The real democratic deficit. Why 16 year olds should be allowed to vote’. This can be read here.

1999

15 December | The Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes proposes an amendment to the Representation of the People Bill. The amendment is defeated by 434 votes to 36. Read the debate here.

13-16 September | Trades Union Congress (TUC) pass Motion 24, ‘Young people, the youth service, enfranchisement and the age of majority‘, to campaign on Votes at 16.

Young people-led Article 12 organisation recommends in its ‘Respect!’ report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child that 16 and 17 year-olds be given the right to vote.

1998

The British Youth Council’s report ‘State of the Young Nation’, surveys 1000 young people across the UK about their participation in society and their understanding of political processes. It reinforces BYC’s campaign for lowering the voting age to 16.