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The group bases its argument on the fact that young people in the UK can do many things at 16, but voting is not one of them. They can, for example, join the armed forces, become the director of a company, pay income tax, leave school and start work, get married and change their name by deed poll.
The opposing argument is, of course, that young people are simply not interested or that they aren’t ready for the responsibility. However, many young people are involved in school councils or local youth councils. The UK also has a Youth Parliament, and citizenship education has been taught in schools since 2002. For many people, extending the vote would be a natural step.
Indeed, 'Votes at 16' has the support of the public. The last time the Electoral Commission asked the public about extending the right to vote to 16 and 17-year-olds, 72 percent were in support. (However, the commission still recommended that the voting age should remain 18.)
In California, State Senator John Vasconcellos has suggested a novel idea when it comes to giving teenagers the right to vote: those aged 16 and 17 would get half a vote, and 14 and 15-year-olds would each get a quarter of a vote. The group L.A. Youth asked local teens what they thought.
One teen, Austin Paige-Roca, said: ‘I think that 14 and 15-year-olds shouldn’t be able to vote because I don’t think they know enough of what’s going on, but 16 and 17-year-olds should be able to vote and they should be worth a whole vote. We’re a person just like anybody else.’ Sixteen-year-old Mayra Lazarit agreed: ‘I believe that we should have the right to vote. I watch the news and I read the newspaper. I want to have a say on what the president is offering us.’ However, one 17-year-old said: ‘I don’t think any of us [teens] are ready to have that big commitment. Most of us don’t know what’s going on in the world.’
Teens in some other countries already have the right to vote. You can vote at 16 if you live in countries such as Austria, Jersey and Brazil. If you live in Germany, you can vote in the state elections and if you’re in Slovenia, you can vote at 16 if you are employed.
In my opinion, there is no reason why young people shouldn’t be able to vote as they already have other rights and responsibilities aged 16. You can work, serve your country or have a baby, but not vote on decisions that will affect your future? It doesn’t make sense. And by lowering the voting age, it is possible that politicians would pay more attention to the needs of those in their late teens.
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