Votes for sixteen and seventeen year-olds

There are moves afoot in Parliament to enfranchise sixteen and seventeen year-olds

Isn’t this the age group that now has to stay in education until they are eighteen?

We complain about politicians who have never held down real jobs, have never encountered some of the basic responsibilities of independent adult life. With politicians wanting to cram half each generation of young people through university, might not the same argument be made here?

It is said that young people can already make adult decisions at sixteen, to marry, to join the armed forces and have to pay taxes, but they are not allowed to sign contracts, may not drive until they are seventeen and may not purchase alcohol until they are eighteen.

Yes, it is true that the law regarding young people appears muddled but lowering the age at which they can vote will leave it more muddled still.

Other writers refer to, “an historical opportunity to convert young people into life-long voters, by lowering the voting age and overhauling citizenship education at the same time,” and hope to re-engage young people with politics.

If you deny young people the right to determine their lives in ways in which adults are able to direct and organise their lives, they will resent this and will distance themselves from the adult world. They do not like to be driven – this is a healthy indication of growing maturity. By attempting to direct young people’s lives, something we have done increasingly in recent years, we must not be surprised if they do not cooperate.

Will those who are so keen to lower the voting age also call for the school-leaving age to be reduced, to fourteen say, not to empty schools, but to invite young people to move towards adult life, by making their own decisions about how they run their lives?

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