They pay taxes, they live under our laws, and today’s policy not only affects their present too, but it will also affect their future – perhaps to an even greater extent than older generations. Is it time we lower the voting age to 16?
It was considered a success when 16- and 17-year-olds were granted the vote during the Scottish referendum. After which legislation passed in Scotland, lowering the voting age to 16 for local and Holyrood elections. Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, and Nicaragua also grant the vote to 16- and 17-year-olds. And in Austria, where this age group can vote in general elections, their turnout is the same as other age groups.
What’s more, it’s widely agreed the younger a person is when he or she starts voting, the more likely this activity is to stick throughout life.
The argument against a lower voting age is often attached to the idea that young people aren’t informed enough, are too idealistic, and easily influenced by parents. But can we not argue that there are older voters who are not informed enough, too set in their traditions, and also continue to live by the influence their parents set?
Maybe instead of lowering the voting age, or even upping the voting age, we need to change voting procedure: Should everyone be tested on knowledge before even being allowed to vote? Or, better question, should political candidates be tested on knowledge – and ethics – before being allowed to run?