|Moderator:Jouni (see all)|
- 1 Question
- 2 Answer
- 3 Rationale
- 3.1 Value structure of voting criteria
- 3.2 Shared understanding
- 3.3 Analysis on premises
- 3.4 Discussion on idebate
- 3.4.1 16 year olds are mature enough to vote (for)
- 3.4.2 No taxation without representation (for)
- 3.4.3 Voting at a lower age would increase participation (for)
- 3.4.4 Voting at 16 would help rebalance voting ages (for)
- 3.4.5 Parents are guardians and should be trusted to vote in their children’s interests (against)
- 3.4.6 Rights should be gained progressively (against)
- 3.4.7 Young people would be more likely to misuse their vote (against)
- 3.4.8 There needs to be a cut off (against)
- 3.5 Dependencies
- 3.6 Formula
- 4 See also
- 5 Keywords
- 6 References
- 7 Related files
What should the voting age be? Should it be lowered from 18 to 16?
Value structure of voting criteria
|Age limit of 16 years, 18 years, or other based on intrinsic value judgement (24)|
|Maintain status quo (changes to current system must be justified) (25)|
| Develop criteria based on expected utility of
|Being citizen of the country/municipality *|
|Living in the country/municipality *|
|Paying taxes (4)|
|Being affected by the policies (14)|
|Not being otherwise heard (15)|
|Parents are given their under-aged children's votes (18)*|
Numbers of arguments (see below) are shown in parentheses.
* logical addition, not from discussion
This section contains descriptions of of the discussions in such a way that they can be automatically managed and even inferred from.
Analysis on premises
This House would lower the voting age to 16
16 year olds are mature enough to vote
- 1 Immaturity in a reason to exclude (value statement)
- 2 16-year-olds are mature to do other things as difficult as voting (sex, army, speaking publically) (value statement)
- 3 Most 16-year-olds are not mature enough emotionally (factual statement)
No taxation without representation
- 4 If you are taxed, you should get to vote (value statement)
- 5 Everyone who uses money pays VAT tax. (factual statement)
Voting at a lower age would increase participation
- 6 Actions that reduce political apathy should be implemented (value statement)
- 7 Waiting before voting increases apahty. (factual statement)
- School education could be combined with voting before high school; this would increase equity (factual statement)
- 8 Young people are politically apathic anyway. (factual statement)
Voting at 16 would help rebalance voting ages
- 9 Young people should be given more political power (compared with elderly). (value statement)
- 10 Or, the society would be better off if young people are heard more than old. (factual statement)
- 11 Political system should be adjusted based on the politics it is likely to produce (rather than just ensure that each person's view is heard). (value statement)
- 12 Opposite to 11: The best political system is such that best hears every individual's true opinions, whatever politics that will produce. (value statement)
Parents are guardians and should be trusted to vote in their children’s interests
- 13 Being affected by a policy does not imply a say. (value statement)
- 14 Opposite to 13: If a person is affected by a policy, they are entitled to be heard. (value statement)
- 15 Other means to be heard will dimish the right to have a vote. (value statement)
- 16 Parents should vote for the interests of their children. (value statement)
- 17 Opposite to 16: Parents should vote for themselves with their own vote rather than for someone else. (value statement)
- 18 Parents get their children's votes (until the children themselves vote), so that they can vote for the interests of their children. (Otherwise they would lose their own vote.) (a logical addition, not from discussion)
Rights should be gained progressively
- 19 People should get different rights at different ages so that they can use the right responsibly. (value statement)
- 20 Opposite of 19: people should get all rights at the same time. (value statement)
Young people would be more likely to misuse their vote
- 21 Vote should not be given to people who would use it in foolish ways. (value statement)
- 22 Opposite to 21: the probable voting behavour must not be a reason for disenfranchising someone. (value statement)
- 23 Young people are likely to vote foolishly. (factual statement)
There needs to be a cut off
- 24 There must be a minimum voting age. (value statement)
- 25 There must be a reason to change the current system before it is changed. (value statement)
- 26 Voting is a human right and available to all, unless restricted by specific reasons. (value statement)
Discussion on idebate
This House would lower the voting age to 16
The right to vote is one of the most important human rights. It gives men and women the chance to have a say in the way they are governed. It allows them to get rid of bad governments and makes sure that any government listens to its people for fear of being thrown out at the next election. It is therefore one of the most important ways in which other rights (e.g. free speech, the right to a fair trial) are protected.
Not every country in the world is a democracy, with free elections giving citizens a fair political choice. But the right to vote is spreading and outright dictatorships are increasingly few on every continent. Yet what should that right to vote mean? A century or so ago almost no countries allowed women to vote, and it took decades of struggle for them to win political rights. Fifty years ago countries such as South Africa and many states in the USA limited the rights of black people to vote, but that too has changed for the better. Now every democracy accepts that all adult citizens should have the right to vote. But what does adult mean?
In almost every country adult is taken for voting purposes to mean 18. 142 countries have 18 as their voting age. Some others (such as Taiwan and Japan) do not give their young people the right to vote until they are 21. But in several countries the voting age is younger - in Korea, Sudan and Indonesia it is 17, in Brazil, Cuba and Nicaragua it is 16, and in Iran it is as low as 15. And in a number of well-known democracies such as the UK, USA and Australia there are growing movements to lower the voting age to 16. This then follows a growing trend; in Britain a backbench motion for lowing the voting age passed the UK parliament 119-46 but won’t be implemented as it was opposed by the government, in Scotland 16 year olds will vote in the independence referendum, while Argentina has lowered the voting age for elections in 2013. Within the EU Austria lowered its voting age in 2008 and there have been calls for the rest of the European Union to follow suit.
This topic looks at the case for lowering the voting age to 16, but the arguments below could be used for a debate about a different voting age (perhaps 14?). Another issue to consider is whether the same age should be used for all kinds of voting (e.g. local elections, state elections, national elections, referenda). And should young people gain the right to stand for election at the same age they get the right to vote? In many countries, such as the UK and United States, you can vote at 18 but can’t stand for elected office until you are 21.
16 year olds are mature enough to vote (for)
16 year olds are mature enough to make important decisions such as voting. If the government agrees that 16 year olds can have sex, join the army, and apply for a passport, then surely they are mature and responsible enough to decide who runs their country and makes important decisions that affect them. Their bodies are fully adult, they have been educated for at least 10 years, and most of them have some experience of work as well as school. By this time, it is likely a teenager will have developed “Advanced reasoning skills...the ability to think about multiple options and possibilities. It includes a more logical thought process and the ability to think about things hypothetically”. This means they are able to form political views and they should be allowed to put these across at election time. Indeed by 16 children are as tolerant as adults and their political skill (the perceived ability to participate effectively in civil life by writing to political leaders and by speaking publically at meetings) is as high at 16 as for those in their late twenties. There is no magic difference between 16 and 18 - indeed, many 16 year olds are more sensible than some 20 year olds.
The UK electoral commission agrees that “there is no single definition of maturity”. However it is not the case that most 16 year olds are mature enough to vote. Rather, teenagers are emotionally immature and tend to behave as though “they are “on stage” with the attention of others constantly centred upon their appearance or actions. This preoccupation stems from the fact that adolescents spend so much time thinking about and looking at themselves”. The large majority still live at home and go to school. They may have adult bodies, but their minds are still those of children who have to be protected. By 18 young people have become much more independent and are able to make their own way in the world. Their political views are likely to be more thoughtful compared to 16 year olds, who may just copy their parents’ opinions or else will pull away from their parents and as a result “the peer group takes on a special significance... Members of the peer group often attempt to behave alike, dress alike... and participate in the same activities”.
No taxation without representation (for)
It is unfair to have taxation without representation. Many 16 year olds work and pay tax on their earnings just as any other worker would. Yet unlike other workers at present they are not allowed to have a say in how the government spends their money, nor in how much should be collected from them in taxes. This was famously the grievance of the thirteen colonies that sparked the American revolution. In 2011 in the UK 7.2% of 16-18 year olds were in employment but not being given fair representation. Policies such as the minimum wage and working hours and conditions are also set by governments, and if young people are old enough to have jobs they should be able to have their say in these issues.
There is no age at which you start to be taxed. Rich children with investment funds and child stars all earn money at a young age and are taxed on it. This does not mean that the voting age should be lowered so that these individuals are represented. Similarly every visitor to the UK pays VAT on any goods they buy, this does not entitle them to a say in government.
Voting at a lower age would increase participation (for)
There is a problem of apathy in many western countries, with low turnouts at elections. Young people are taught citizenship or civics at school with the aim of building “Knowledge and understanding about being informed citizens...Developing skills of enquiry and communication...Developing skills of participation and responsible action” however they don’t get a chance to put this knowledge into practice for several years. Is it surprising that they lose interest in public affairs during this time? Because national elections are usually only held every four years or so, many people have to wait until they are 20 or 21, years after that civic education, before their first chance to cast an important vote. It is noticeable that political interest is much higher among those in education than those who are not. In Austria it was found that 68% of 16 to 18 year olds in education were interested in politics against only 45% of those who are working. By demonstrating trust and promoting inclusion, young people would feel more confident in their views, become less disillusioned and eventually teach their children the same values. Introducing a lower voting age can only have long term benefits for the expansion of democracy.
Earlier voting is not a solution to the low turnout problem, the electoral commission in the UK concluded .here is evidence to suggest that extending the franchise will actually create lower turnout and projections about if it would get higher cannot be sufficiently determined At the moment 18-25 year olds are the least likely to cast a vote at election time. Youth membership of political parties is falling. Lowering the voting age still further is therefore likely to reduce turnout even more. Most people don’t vote because they think the election system is unfair, their vote does not count, or because they don’t trust any of the political parties on offer - lowering the voting age won’t solve these problems. Instead with a generation that is increasingly online, to take the UK 21 million households (80%) had internet access in 2012, and there are over 6.4 million iPhone users, the answer is therefore to engage them digitally not through trying some magic bullet at the ballot box.
Voting at 16 would help rebalance voting ages (for)
There is a notable difference between how young people and the elderly are treated. Giving the vote to teenagers would force politicians to take them seriously. Policies on education (e.g. student loans) would have to take their views and interests into account for the first time. 16 year olds today are well-educated and media-savvy, so they can express informed opinions. But at the moment young people’s views are easily ignored by those in power because they don’t have the vote. The vote for 16-18 year olds would help redress the growing age imbalance which is occurring as a result of aging. In the rich world by 2050 one in three will be a pensioner and one in ten over 80. These voters will clearly be looking after their benefits at the expense of the young.
Since 18-24 year olds already ignore their ability to vote there is no reason to expect that 16-18 year olds will be any more interested. At the moment over 50% of 18-24 year olds don’t vote even though they are eligible. So this kind of change is hardly going to offset aging. It is also wrong to suggest that voters vote according to their age; the elderly are likely to have grandchildren whose interests they may well respect when voting.
Parents are guardians and should be trusted to vote in their children’s interests (against)
Governments do things which affect every age group but that does not mean everyone deserves the vote. Should 12 year olds get the vote because school policies affect them? Should toddlers get the vote because health services affect them? No - we trust parents to cast votes after thinking about the interests of their families. And there are other ways for young people to have a say - they can write to elected representatives and newspapers, sign petitions, speak at public meetings, join youth parliaments, etc. It is notable that sixteen year olds themselves are divided on whether they should have the vote, if many of them trust their parents to vote for them should not the government?
This is an odd idea; should parents not be voting for themselves not their children? If they are voting for their children rather than themselves are they not themselves disenfranchised? The fact is that children and their parents have different interests on account of the age gap that is likely to be at least 20 years. Someone who is 16 is much more interested in university fees than someone who is 40 who will be more interested in how much they will have at retirement. Furthermore with turnouts that are often less than 50% a great many children are not being represented by their parents at all. Adults have the choice to not vote, when their parents are choosing not to vote children don’t get this opportunity.
Rights should be gained progressively (against)
Just because 16 year olds have the right to do some things, it doesn’t mean that they should use them. If all 16 year olds left home at 16 and started families it would be considered a disaster. And not all rights are given at 16 - most countries have a higher age for important things such as drinking alcohol, serving on a jury, joining the military, etc. It makes sense for different rights to be gained at different times as young people mature and get used to more responsibility. The more difficult and complex the choices involved in that right and the greater the impact the later a right should be given. Because voting is so important, involves complex decision making, and can potentially have a large impact, it should be one of the last rights to be gained. It then makes sense that it voting should be granted at the time we consider adulthood to be beginning, which was agreed in the declaration of the rights of the child is 18.
16 year olds already have other rights. For example, in many countries they have the right to leave school and leave home, and the rights to have sex, marry and have children, they can rent accommodation and consent to surgery. It is not reasonable to have different ages for different rights. It makes sense for the right to vote to be at a younger age precisely because the individual has fewer changes to deal with at a younger age, they will therefore find it easier to learn to vote. If young people are considered old enough to make important choices about their own future, why can’t they have a say in deciding the future of their country?
Young people would be more likely to misuse their vote (against)
It would be dangerous to give young people the vote. They might use it in foolish ways. For example they will be more likely to make their decision on which party had the best image; so will vote for parties that put up celebrities. They are also more likely to vote for extremists into power or vote without thinking on single issues (e.g. making drugs legal, free university places, cheap beer!). It is notable that in late 1990’s Russia 80% of the Communist party’s members were under 30, and a far right nationalist party, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, has called to lower the voting age to 16. A study from the University of Nijmegen found that younger people are over represented in voters for extreme right wing parties, and the same goes the other way with younger people more likely to support left wing populist measures at the expense of democracy, rights, and freedoms.
Young people are not the only ones who vote for extremists, the elderly are also more likely to vote for far right parties. It is important in a democracy to include as wide a range of opinion as possible; a tendency to vote for more radical ideas should not be a reason for disenfranchising someone, or even more so disenfranchising a whole group. There are however also reasons to believe that 16 to 18 year olds could potentially use their votes more wisely than their elders. When looking at Austria it was found that those in education paid more attention to political news than those in work. 30% of people working followed political news less than once a week compared to only 15% of those in education. As students are therefore better informed it would seem to be likely they would use their votes more wisely.
There needs to be a cut off (against)
Everyone would agree that there has to be a minimum voting age. Most people believe that the line should be drawn at 18 rather than 16. Although some 16 year olds may be mature enough to vote, most have not yet formed political views of their own yet. On average, young people are much more likely to be ready for the responsibility of voting at 18. There is then no reason why 16 would make a better cut off point than 18. At both ages some rights are given, at both there will be some who pay tax who are not given representation, at both some will be immature. There is no clear dividing line so there can be no clear reasoning for lowering the voting age to 16.
This applies equally to having the cut off at 16 rather than 18. If it is questionable at both ages then since this is an issue of human rights we should err on the side of caution and give the vote to as many as possible. This would mean lowering the voting age.
- Structure of shared understanding
- Shared understanding
- Other examples of shared understanding (op_fi:Jaetun ymmärryksen menetelmä in Finnish):
- Merja Jutila Roon. (2016) Kenen demokratia? Miten edustuksellinen demokratia saadaan toimimaan nykyajassa. Kalevi Sorsa -säätiö, Helsinki. ISBN 978-952-5689-67-9 
- Alex Helling. "This House would lower the voting age to 16." idebate.org. 30 April 2013, accessed 5 April 2017. .
- ‘MPs support giving 16-year-olds the vote’, BBC News, 24 January 2013
- Philip, Andy, ‘Scotland starts formal process to lower voting age to 16’, The Independent, 12 March 2013
- Agencies, ‘Argentina lowers voting age to 16’, The Telegraph, 1 November 2012
- Zeglovits, Eva, and Schwarzer, Steve, ‘Lowering voting age in Austrtia – evaluation of accompanying campaigns for 16-18 year olds’, Paper presented at the 5th ECPR General Conference, Potsdam, Sept 12th-15th 2009
- ‘Vote at 16 Campaign Reaches New Heights of Support Across Europe’, European Youth Forum, 17 December 2012
- Becker, Heinz K. et al., ‘Written Declaration pursuant to Rule 123 of the Rules of Procedure on lowering the voting age to 16’, europarl.europa.eu, 10 September 2012
- Morgan, Erin, and Huebner, Angela, ‘Adolescent Growth and Development’, VirginiaTech, 1 Mary 2009
- Atkins, Robert, and Hart, Daniel, ‘American Sixteen and Seventeen Year Olds are Ready to Vote’, The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol 633:201, 2011, p.210
- The Electoral Commission, ‘Voting age should stay at 18 says the Electoral Commission’, 19 April 2004
- University of Maryland Medical Center, ‘Adolescent Development-Overview’, University of Maryland, 17 January, 2011
- ‘Participation of 16 to 18 year olds in education and training, England’, Department of Education, 21 February 2013, Table 1
- House of Commons Education and Skills Committee, ‘Citizenship Education’, House of Commons, 21 February 2007
- Zeglovits, Eva, and Schwarzer, Steve, ‘Lowering voting age in Austrtia – evaluation of accompanying campaigns for 16-18 year olds’, Paper presented at the 5th ECPR General Conference, Potsdam, Sept 12th-15th 2009, p.9
- The Electoral Commission, ‘Voting age should stay at 18 says the Electoral Commission’, 19 April 2004
- Office for national statistics, ‘Statistical bulletin: Internet Access – Households and Individuals, 2012’, 24 August 2012
- NMA Staff, ‘UK iPhone users to reach 6.4m this year’, New media age, 6 August 2010
- The Economist, ‘A slow-burning fuse’, 25 June 2009
- Dunleavy, Patrick, and Gilson, Chris, ‘Is the UK Electorate Disengaged?’, British Politics and Policy at LSE, 12 March 2010
- The Electoral Commission, ‘Voting age should stay at 18 says the Electoral Commission’, 19 April 2004
- Archard, David William, ‘Children's Rights’, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
- Thesite.org, ‘What age can I?’, 5 May 2013
- Franklin, Mark N., at al., ‘The Generational Basis of Turnout Decline in Established Democracies’, Acta Politica, March 2004, pp.8-9
- ‘Extremists push for young voters’, Times Higher Education, 7 December 1998
- Lubbers, Marcel et al., ‘Extreme right-wing voting in Western Europe’, European Journal of Political Research, vol. 41, 2002, pp345-378, p.364
- Seligson, Mitchell, A., ‘The Rise of Populism and the Left in Latin America’, Journal of Democracy, Vol.18 No.3, July 2007, pp.81-95, p.91
- Arzheimer, Kai, and Carter, Elizabeth, ‘Political Opportunity Structures and Right-Wing Extremist Party Success’, European Journal of Political Research, 2006, p.4
- Zeglovits, Eva, and Schwarzer, Steve, ‘Lowering voting age in Austrtia – evaluation of accompanying campaigns for 16-18 year olds’, Paper presented at the 5th ECPR General Conference, Potsdam, Sept 12th-15th 2009, p.10
Agencies, ‘Argentina lowers voting age to 16’, The Telegraph, 1 November 2012, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/southamerica/argentina/9647629/Argentina-lowers-voting-age-to-16.html
Archard, David William, ‘Children's Rights’, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2011/entries/rights-children/
Arzheimer, Kai, and Carter, Elizabeth, ‘Political Opportunity Structures and Right-Wing Extremist Party Success’, European Journal of Political Research, 2006, http://www.kai-arzheimer.com/Political-Opportunity-Structures/Right-Wing-Extremist-Party-Success.pdf
Atkins, Robert, and Hart, Daniel, ‘American Sixteen and Seventeen Year Olds are Ready to Vote’, The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 633:201, 2011, http://www.youthrights.org/newnyrasite/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2011/04/16-and-Year-Olds-Are-Ready-to-Vote.pdf
BBC News, ‘MPs support giving 16-year-olds the vote’, 24 January 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21178379
Department of Education, ‘Participation of 16 to 18 year olds in education and training, England’, 21 February 2013, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/167492/sfr12-2012.pdf.pdf
Dunleavy, Patrick, and Gilson, Chris, ‘Is the UK Electorate Disengaged?’, British Politics and Policy at LSE, 12 March 2010, http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/archives/456
Franklin, Mark N., at al., ‘The Generational Basis of Turnout Decline in Established Democracies’, Acta Politica, March 2004, http://www.tcd.ie/Political_Science/staff/michael_marsh/tally.pdf
House of Commons Education and Skills Committee, ‘Citizenship Education’, House of Commons, 21 February 2007, http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmeduski/147/147.pdf
Lubbers, Marcel et al., ‘Extreme right-wing voting in Western Europe’, European Journal of Political Research, vol. 41, 2002, pp345-378, http://doc.utwente.nl/61252/1/Lubbers02extreme.pdf
Morgan, Erin, and Huebner, Angela, ‘Adolescent Growth and Development’, VirginiaTech, 1 Mary 2009, http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/350/350-850/350-850.html
NMA Staff, ‘UK iPhone users to reach 6.4m this year’, New media age, 6 August 2010, http://www.nma.co.uk/uk-iphone-users-to-reach-64m-this-year/3016774.article
Office for national statistics, ‘Statistical bulletin: Internet Access – Households and Individuals, 2012’, 24 August 2012, http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/rdit2/internet-access---households-and-individuals/2012/stb-internet-access--households-and-individuals--2012.html
Philip, Andy, ‘Scotland starts formal process to lower voting age to 16’, The Independent, 12 March 2013, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/scotland-starts-formal-process-to-lower-voting-age-to-16-8530580.html
Seligson, Mitchell, A., ‘The Rise of Populism and the Left in Latin America’, Journal of Democracy, Vol.18 No.3, July 2007, pp.81-95, http://www.vanderbilt.edu/lapop/multicountry/2006-riseoftheleft.pdf
The Economist, ‘A slow-burning fuse’, 25 June 2009, http://www.economist.com/node/13888045
The Electoral Commission, ‘Voting age should stay at 18 says the Electoral Commission’, 19 April 2004, http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/news-and-media/news-releases/electoral-commission-media-centre/news-releases-reviews-and-research/voting-age-should-stay-at-18-says-the-electoral-commission
Thesite.org, ‘What age can I?’, http://www.thesite.org/homelawandmoney/law/yourrights/whatagecani, 05/05/2011
Times Higher Education, ‘Extremists push for young voters’, 7 December 1998, http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/110182.article
University of Maryland Medical Center, ‘Adolescent Development-Overview’, University of Maryland, 17 January, 2011, http://www.umm.edu/ency/article/002003.htm
Zeglovits, Eva, and Schwarzer, Steve, ‘Lowering voting age in Austria – evaluation of accompanying campaigns for 16-18 year olds’, Paper presented at the 5th ECPR General Conference, Potsdam, Sept 12th-15th 2009
Becker, Heinz K. et al., ‘Written Declaration pursuant to Rule 123 of the Rules of Procedure on lowering the voting age to 16’, europarl.europa.eu, 10 September 2012, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=WDECL&reference=P7-DCL-2012-0027&format=PDF&language=EN
‘Participatory Youth Organisations In Europe Core arguments for lowering the electoral age to 16’, European Youth Forum, 0925-10 Youth Policy, https://www.constitution.ie/AttachmentDownload.ashx?aid=e6ed2113-d964-e211-a5a0-005056a32ee4
‘Vote at 16 Campaign Reaches New Hights of Support Across Europe’, European Youth Forum, 17 December 2012, http://www.mijarc.org/sites/default/files/files/0912-12_vote_at_16_end_EN.pdf
Franklin, Mark N., at al., ‘The Generational Basis of Turnout Decline in Established Democracies’, Acta Politica, March 2004, http://www.tcd.ie/Political_Science/staff/michael_marsh/tally.pdf Source URL: http://idebate.org/debatabase/debates/democracy/house-would-lower-voting-age-16