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Votes at 16

Monday 30 June 2008 Citizenship

At age 16 and 17 you can leave home, pay income tax and National Insurance, receive benefits, drive a car or motorbike, sign up for the army and even have a baby. Yet you can't vote for the elected representatives whose decisions can affect all these responsibilities.

NUS believes that the responsibilities of 16 and 17 year olds are not balanced by rights.

Young people certainly have the knowledge and information to vote. Citizenship education is now integrated into the National Curriculum for all 11 to 16 year olds.

There is much more information available on tv and over the internet. This means 16 year olds are now more informed about politics than ever before.

Young people are passionate about politics

What’s more, young people are passionate about politics. They may sometimes feel disengaged from politicians, but they still care deeply about political issues.

Just ask them about climate change or the war in Iraq! They have varied, diverse and strong opinions and deserve the right at 16 to use the ballot box to have these views represented. 

Support the British Youth Council

Hundreds of young people have signed up to support the British Youth Council (BYC’s) Votes at 16 campaign  and major youth-led organisations in Britain are members of the Votes at 16 Coalition.

To celebrate 60 years of empowering young people in the UK, BYC is continuing to push for Votes at 16 by championing a '16 at 60' campaign to lower the voting age from 18 to 16.

It seems the government has responded positively to the call for votes at 16. Gordon Brown recently announced voting at 16 was part of his vision of a future constitution for Britain and has pledged to examine the issue as part of a new Youth Citizenship Commission.

The Electoral Commission has also said the voting age should be reviewed in 2009/10.