Scottish Referendum Proves Voting Age Should be Lowered to 16

The Green Party in Northern Ireland has said the Scottish referendum has provided both evidence and momentum that the voting age should be lowered to 16.

Green MLA Steven Agnew said: “The Green Party in Northern Ireland has consistently campaigned for the voting age to be lowered to 16 in all elections and I was delighted when the Assembly backed my motion calling for this in 2012.

“This not a devolved matter in Northern Ireland so despite political support at the Assembly, it will not happen unless Westminster changes the law.

“But as a party, we have been ahead of the curve on this issue.

“In a ground-breaking move, The Green Party already offered anyone living in the European Union over the age of 16 the opportunity to vote for the two Green leading candidates for the 2014 European Elections.

“We want to not only raise the debate on this issue, but we also want to enfranchise a whole generation of young people into civic society through including them in the decision making process supported by political education and information.

“The Scottish referendum saw 100,000 16 and 17-year-olds register to vote which proves young people want a say on the issues that affect them.

“The political structure must now recognise this, seize the opportunity and respond accordingly so we can capitalize on the interest and enthusiasm young people have in politics.

“We believe 16-year-olds should be able to vote because if we are going treat young people as adults in so many other respects, they should be afforded the same rights when it comes to voting.

“At 16, young people can get married, raise a family, get a job and join the army. They can also pay taxes – so they should have a say in how those taxes are spent – there should be no taxation without representation.

“There has been a continued failure on behalf of politicians to engage with young people and reducing the age they can vote to 16 will offer an opportunity for greater civic engagement.

“The conversation regarding voting is something that can be explored both formally and informally in our schools and this has the potential to set a life-long pattern of civic engagement which will be healthy for democracy – particularly if it increases voter turn-out.

“Young people should be fully encouraged to have a say in that process by being active participants in the democratic process.”

23 September 2014

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