• Votes at 16

    04 November 2019

    Dear Constituent,

    Thank you for contacting me about the voting age.

    In the UK, there is no single moment when someone moves from childhood to adulthood; instead responsibilities and permitted activities build up over time. For example, a person must be 17 before they can hold a license to drive and 18 before they can sit on a jury or buy alcohol. I think this illustrates that, so far, we have viewed attaining adulthood as a process rather than a single event.

    I also believe it is notable that most democracies consider 18 the right age to enfranchise young people. So far in the EU, only Austria and Scotland have lowered the voting age to 16 for national elections.

    Of course, I am all for young people taking part in politics, but we have to do lots of things to get more young people involved in politics; it is not only a matter of the voting age. Interestingly, a 2009 report by the Youth Citizenship Commission stated that the voting age is not the principal factor in encouraging young people’s interest and involvement in politics and citizenship. In 2013, a YouGov poll found that voters of all ages and political views opposed changes to the voting age. As recently as 2017, a large poll of adults found that 29 per cent were in favour of lowering the age to 16, while over 50 per cent were against it.

    I hope that this helps you to understand my position. Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

    Yours sincerely,

    Mel Stride MP

    MP for Central Devon