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Saturday, January 12, 2008

A chink of light?

Is this a chink of light in an otherwise dire government approach to constitutional issues? The Telegraph reports that Harriet Harman has suggested that the voting age could be lowered to 16 to encourage young people to get involved in politics:

"My concern is that there's a generation of young people who are never going to get into the voting habit," she said. "We've got citizenship classes going on in schools... If people come straight out of the citizenship class into the polling station then there's continuity and that might be an opportunity for them to get the habit of voting."

Miss Harman, who is one of the Cabinet ministers responsible for constitutional reform, gives the clearest sign yet that the Government is seriously considering allowing 16-year-olds to vote.

"There's a democratic imperative to increase turnout because democracy lacks legitimacy if there's a dwindling number of people participating in it," she said.

This is just one of many reforms that need to be introduced and at least she is talking about young people going to polling booths rather than texting their vote in. That has to be a good sign too.
I find it very strange that dwindling support for the democratic process is not being investigated.

I can only suppose the sixteen year old voters will be given a financial incentive to use their vote. (They already get £50 a week just for attending school.)
You could surposed dwindling support for the democratic process goes hand in hand with people who feel powerless about what our elected representatives do in power. How more they are taxed and get nothing or little in return.

How many polls have I read where a majority of the population would rather live elsewhere.

Giving 16 year old kids the vote makes absolutely no sense. many of them cannot even read or write. just a make a X !!
So 16 years olds can get a job, pay taxes, have sex, and marry but you don't consider them to have the ability to vote? How condescending.
Yes but they're not allowed to get married without parental consent, can't legally buy alcohol or tobacco, can't enter a public house unaccompanied, aren't allowed credit cards and so on.

We don't come to adulthood overnight. The law gradually gives young people more and more rights (and responsibilities) as they get older. When they become fully adult then they have the right to exercise (or not) the considerabale responsibility of voting.

Unless you are suggesting that young people should immediately gain all adult rights and responsibilities at the age of 16, I'd suggest you are the one being condescending in pursuit of the "youth vote".
I hardly think that proposing votes at 16 can be construed as pursuing the 'youth vote'. If you talk to people of this age group you will find a very mixed reaction to such a proposal. I also do not see how giving people more responsibility can be classed as 'condescending'.
So Labour's answer to lowering participation rates at elections is, in part, increasing the number of people with the right to vote.

Given that the youngest are least likely to vote, the evidence suggests that giving the vote to 16 year olds will simply reduce turnout further.
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