All those in favour of lowering the voting age say ‘Aye!’

Given the ways our votes affect young people, increasingly I favour of lowering the voting age.

For some reason that is unclear to me, young people venturing forth seem to be discouraged from being too independent until they hit their mid-twenties.

Perhaps, until youth reaches the middle twenties, it is considered too radical, having little or no stake in the status quo. Increasingly, punitive legislation and the withdrawal of state support from young people living alone makes it clear that youngsters are expected to stay firmly ensconced in the bosom of their loving families until they have completed a satisfying respectable and useful tertiary education, preferably in something sensible like business studies, commerce, modern affairs or construction. Or, if they must plump for something esoteric, a degree in Mandarin is a good way to go.

Given that a youngster has far more stake in the future than I do, I can see no reason why the voting age should not be lowered to sixteen. We are allowed to marry at sixteen, but not go to X rated movies or own a pet, or vote. How odd. My daughter’s analysis of the political situation is astute – she predicted, for example that Donald Trump would win the US election – and, with age appropriate language, her grasp of facts is much quicker than mine has ever been. It seems unjust that young adults can be responsible for their acts under the law, for example, but can have no say in shaping it until they are eighteen.

The argument that they are not sufficiently aware of consequences seems to me to be patronising and rather beside the point. Lots of people voting on important decisions – the EU referendum, for example – freely admit to having had little idea what they were voting for or against. Knowledge does not seem to be a requirement for anyone over eighteen.

Given the challenges they – and we all – will have to face, it seems right that young adults should have a vote at sixteen. Perhaps their more honest and direct appreciation of all the issues at stake would produce a more inclusive environment for constructive political debate, vital for healing divisions in society.

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