I meet all sorts of people in my role as councillor and political activist. These include those who have no interest in voting, those that always vote one way or another because this is all they have known, and those that cannot be bothered. Are these people any more entitled to a say in how our country is run than sixteen and seventeen-year olds?
What of those with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or who have learning difficulties? These people have the vote. What about those who confess to not understanding politics? There is no question of challenging these persons right to vote.
I am not looking to see the vote taken away from anyone, I want to see suffrage extended to those of sixteen years of age.
There are some who are resistant to Votes At Sixteen, some who make the argument that sixteen year olds lack maturity and understanding. Perhaps some do, but then this equally applies to those currently eligible.
At sixteen one can do a number of things considered adult, such as work and marry. Adding the ability to vote only seems only fair against this backdrop.
The Scottish independence referendum three years back saw sixteen year olds have a say, and this was a success. Not all sixteen year olds will want to vote, but those that do should be allowed. There is an ongoing debate on this issue and I hope that we shall see the suffrage extended. I also hope for other changes to improve our democracy, and perhaps these can wait for another day.
Votes at 16 should not have to wait. Our democracy can and must be improved.