At the Liberal Democrat conference this week there were calls for the voting age to be lowered to 16 at an event chaired by the British Youth Council’s Liam Preston.
As reported by Children and Young People Now, Martin Fairclough, head of community and campaigns at the Co-operative Group, said: “If we are going to encourage young people to play their full part in society and to change their role in a passionate way, they need political capital to do that. The last time the vote was extended was in 1969 when it went from 21 to 18″.
“Just look at what’s taken place in those 40 years. Look at a typical 18 year old then and a 16 year old now — their understanding of the world, their education. Surely it is time to accept that they are just as sophisticated as the 18 year olds were in 1969. Who would not want to harness their energy, insight and passion? They have a right to shape the world they are now in.”
Dan Leighton, head of the public interest programme at Demos (an independent think tank who have conducted research on the issue), added: “The most pressing new issues are around intergenerational justice, most importantly climate change and managing debt. These are issues that require young people to think about their future and to have a say in the future issues of sustainability. If I were someone who wanted to campaign for votes at 16 I wouldn’t miss this opportunity for the first national referendum in 30 or 40 years.”
The full report can be read here.