Nikki Morgan, writing on Conservative Home, is suggesting that her party should be ‘pushing’ to lower the age at which a person can vote to 16 years; and this is not the first time a politician, regardless of party, has suggested this. In the UK, the minimum voting age is 18, except in Scotland, where 16- and 17-year-olds have been given the right to vote in local and Scottish parliamentary elections.
My argument against lowering the voting age is that 16-year-olds haven’t yet entered the world of home ownership, employment, tax or pensions but these economic issues are often at the forefront of election campaigns; coupled with the point that a lack of experience in these matters prevents people of such a young age from making a considered judgment at the ballot box. There is also the fact that 18- to 24-year-olds have the lowest turnout of any age group in elections, reflecting an apparent lack of interest in politics, so why would those two years younger be any different.
Those that support lowering the voting age to 16 appear to believe it is about giving young people a say in matters that directly affect them, such as tuition fees (yes; and we all know how they would vote on that without giving one thought as to how the cost would be met). It is also thought that lowering the limit will encourage civic-mindedness at an earlier age and establish an interest in the political system, which will be continued throughout a person’s life (reverting to the lack of interest in voting among 18-24 year-olds, we can see how well that idea has worked).
With the educational system we have today, coupled with those who seem intent in filling what is a child’s mind with doubts about his/her sexuality/gender, I am reminded of a reputed quote by H.L. Mencken:
And what is a good citizen? Simply one who never says, does or thinks anything that is unusual. Schools are maintained in order to bring this uniformity up to the highest possible point. A school is a hopper into which children are heaved while they are still young and tender; therein they are pressed into certain standard shapes and covered from head to heels with official rubber-stamps.
The cynic in me had the thought that this idea of lowering the voting age is but a ploy by politicians to garner votes from those who would have no idea just that for which they were voting – but then that problem applies to a cross-section of the electorate regardless of age – but I digress.
On that last point, I also wonder how many of the electorate (as a percentage) would be able to state the origin of the word ‘democracy’ and provide its literal meaning. Until such time as a majority can so do, perhaps we should abolish the practice of voting – voting currently being but a method by which politicians are able to continue their careers at the expense of those who have no idea why they do vote.