Keep it 18

The panel reviewing the electoral system will consider lowering the voting age to 16.

People arguing in favour of this use the no taxation without representation argument because some 16 and 17 year-olds pay tax.

Some a lot younger than that pay tax too – if it’s fair to grant the right to vote to 16 and 17 year-olds, on the grounds of paying tax, would it not  apply to younger children too, and would it also then be fairer to to take the right to vote from anyone who doesn’t pay tax?

Another argument is that people can marry and join the armed forces at 16.

Marriage is between two people and serving in the armed forces is a career choice, neither of which contribute to determining the government and the direction of the country.

Proponents also argue that some young people are very politically aware but that isn’t a pre-requisite for voting. If it was, the number of those eligible to vote at any age would be a lot fewer.

While people supporting the age reduction cite what 17 and 18 year-olds can do they conveniently overlook what they can’t.

Teens can’t legally purchase alcohol until they are 18 and if they commit crimes they face the youth court until they’re older than 17.

Both of those concessions to younger people are based on the premise that they are not yet adults.

If they are not sufficiently grown up to buy alcohol and accept the consequences of criminal charges in adult courts, why should they be considered grown up enough to vote?

Buying, and consuming, alcohol and committing crimes impact the people doing it and any victims, but that is generally a small number of people.

The outcome of elections has far greater ramifications for far more people and democracy would be better served by keeping the voting age at 18.

2 Responses to Keep it 18

  1. Heather Adam says:

    Spot on Ele. Apart from anything else, the average 16 year old is not interested in politics.


  2. Richard says:

    And, although this isn’t a consideration of those proposing the change, most 16 to 18 year olds would vote Green or Labour. Strangely it’s the Green Party promoting the change and not ACT


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