It’s time for votes at 16
Right now, 1.5 million young people in the UK don’t have a say in democracy because they can’t vote. Except for in Scotland, where 16-year-olds can vote in Holyrood and local elections.
Think that’s a bit unfair? Us too. That’s why we’re campaigning to lower the voting age to 16 across the board.
Hear from Jim McMahon, Labour and Co-operative Party MP for Oldham West and Royton and the MP who took the bill to parliament for debate last year; and three activists from Oldham Youth Council on why the voting age should be lowered.
Jim McMahon, Labour and Co-operative Party MP for Oldham West and Royton
“I think we demand a lot of our 16 and 17-year-olds and I think they have a right to have a say in our democracy. Democracy isn’t an exclusive club, it’s about franchising people and giving them the right to participate and affect change.
I think now we’ve come away from established politics it means politicians have to wake up and realise our politics has to become far more inclusive and take into account a wide range of views when making decisions on people’s behalf.
The time has come. If you believe in a truly United Kingdom, it’s important we have equity in our democracy too.”
Jade, 17, Oldham Youth Parliament member
“Getting the vote would mean everything to me. Issues like the General Election and the EU referendum are so important to me and my friends, whether they’re 16, 17 or 18.
These issues decide our future, and to be denied the right to have a say on them is such a critical issue.”
Shariq, 17, Youth Councillor for Oldham Youth Council
“16-year-olds can work, they can pay tax, but at the moment they don’t have any say in where that tax can go. I don’t think you can have taxation without representation.
People say that 16-year-olds don’t care, and that’s why they shouldn’t have the vote. But I think many 18-year-olds don’t care, and there are probably many 20, 30 and 60-year-olds who don’t care. If you’re not interested in politics you’re not interested in politics but that shouldn’t deny rights to those who are.”
Katie, 17, Youth Councillor for Oldham Youth Council
“I believe that getting the vote for 16-year-olds is a really important issue. 16-year-olds in Scotland had the right to vote in the independence referendum, and soon 16-year-olds in Wales could vote too.
I feel that every young person in the United Kingdom should have the same rights and should have the opportunity to feel that empowerment in the same way. I think social media helps young people to feel more involved and part of the conversation. I think that’s why now is the right time for the vote.”
Parliament hasn’t yet had the chance to vote on Jim’s bill for votes at 16, but that won’t stop us continuing to campaign for equality for young people and fairness in democracy.