Youth leaders’ call to lower voting age

Senior Young Peoples worker Brian Wood and some of the Fleetwood Youth Action Group.
Senior Young Peoples worker Brian Wood and some of the Fleetwood Youth Action Group.

YOUTH workers and politically motivated youngsters in Wyre have called for the voting age to be lowered to 16.

Calls for the voting shake-up came after the Scottish Parliament outlined new plans to reduce their voting age from the current 18 to 16 – allowing an extra 125,000 people to take to the polling stations.

The issue of lowering the voting age has been fiercely debated by youngsters in Wyre during meetings of the youth council and youth parliament.

But while thousands of teenagers remain unsure about the political system, those with a passion for politics say 16-year-olds are mature enough to approach the ballot box.

Samantha Parkes, from Garstang, the representative for Wyre at the Youth Parliament, recently took part in a debate in the House of Commons to try and lower the age of voters.

She said: “There has been a lot of debate on this issue regionally and I feel there should be equal opportunities for people to vote as we have to pay taxes at 16.

“But there needs to be improvements made on political education in schools so people are not just voting for the sake of voting and they know what is going on in a particular party.

Brian Wood, from Milton Youth and Community Centre, Fleetwood, says 16-year-olds can already make life changing decisions.

He said: “At 16 you can’t drink in a pub, but you can sign up to for the Armed Forces and fight for your country or get married. It seems wrong they can’t vote.

“I don’t see it as a problem because a lot of adults who can vote, choose not to, but young people don’t get a chance until they are 18.”

Lancashire Youth Council’s current topic of discussion is to try and reduce the voting age, but the Government will inevitably have the final say on the legislation.

Emmanuel Church on Lofthouse Way, Fleetwood, runs youth groups for teenagers in the town.

Rob Steward, assistant pastor at the church, said: “They are capable of making informative decisions at 16, but alongside that, more information needs to come from schools about what politics is about.

“The focus needs to be on the different political parties and the responsibilities they have as a voter.”