Could Scotland referendum pave the way for votes at 16?


Left to right: Liam Cutler, Dominique Triggs, Amy Clarkson, Michal Zatrack, all 17 and all students at Northallerton College

Seventeen-year-old Liam Cutler calls Scotland's independence vote a "first step" towards a lower voting age.

He says it can "prove that 16 and 17-year-olds do care about politics".

He added: "There are 16 and 17-year-olds who aren't responsible, but the same could be said of any age group."

Other 17-year-olds at Liam's North Yorkshire school don't see it as a priority though.

When asked what he was looking forward to most about turning 18, Michal Zatrak said: "Freedom, more independence."

Amy Clarkson added: "Going out legally, with the addition of alcohol."

For Dominique Triggs, the best thing about turning 18 will be "more freedom".

Liam is a member of the UK Youth Parliament and is a Votes at 16 campaigner.


Trying to win Amy, Michal and Dominique round to his point of view, he said: "A vote is symbolic of getting listened to by the people in power."

Amy said she worries that many 16-year-olds wouldn't have the life experience to use their vote properly.

Where do you stop it? You say 16-year-olds have opinions, but so do 15-year-olds, so do 14-year-olds?
Amy Clarkson

She said: "A lot of people, the only job they've had is a part-time job, if they've even had that."

Dominique added: "I don't think there's enough education on it for people to necessarily make decisions that are best for them."

Liam responded: "Something the Youth Parliament is keen about is more political education in schools."

"The other question," added Amy, "is where do you stop it? You say 16-year-olds have opinions, but so do 15-year-olds, so do 14-year-olds?"

"But why draw the line at 18 initially?" asked Liam in response.

"We can go out and buy lottery tickets for example. You might pay an adult fare on a bus from 16 and above."

Given the choice between a child's fare on a bus and the right to vote, Amy, Dominique and Michal all chose the former.

"Lowering the age to 16 opens it up to those who do want to," said Liam.

"But if you don't want to vote, no-one's forcing you."

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