• Voting Age

    03 November 2017

    Dear Constituent

    Thank you for contacting me about the voting age.
    I welcome the ongoing discussions and debates on this issue. There was a rising level of interest in the issue following the Scottish Independence Referendum, although most polls do show that a majority of adults oppose the change. In the 16-18 cohort, there is a modest majority of 16 year olds in favour, 17 year olds are evenly balanced, and 18 year olds are against.
    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 leave home without parents’ consent or 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 attainting 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 achieve more young people being 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.
    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 for Central Devon

    Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General