I was born on October 28, 1998 in a little place you might know called King’s Lynn.
At 16 I may not technically be an adult and I certainly don’t consider myself to be one, but whenever I buy tickets for things I’m considered an adult. This is also the case for many other situations. But even bigger than that – I could get married right now and have children if I wanted to. I could move out.
This Friday I leave school for good, and soon I’ll be learning to drive.
I can do all of these things and more, and yet ... I am not allowed to have a say in the way my own country is run. I’m allowed to bring a brand-new person into the world, but I’m forbidden from drawing a cross in a box. Longer school hours? Tough. The retirement age is rising? Nothing I can do about that.
Do people think that those who are under 18 are all immature people who can’t think for themselves? You only have to look at the figures for the Scottish referendum to know that’s not true. Our futures are being decided solely by people much older than us. We are considered adults… but only when it suits. And, believe it or not, a lot of us do have strong political opinions. Of course we do – this is the country most of us will be living in for the rest of our lives, and our age group is hugely affected by government policies. One of my friends, for example, is just 14 and has an entire website dedicated to politics. I don’t think the voting age should be lowered that far, but she has had that website for years, and it’s amazing.
Should the voting age be lowered to 16? I asked a group of people what they thought. Some were younger than me, some were much older, and most of them decided that, yes, it should. One of them said, “If people can work and pay taxes at 16, not being able to vote for what happens with those taxes is crazy.”
He echoes my thoughts exactly.
Someone else had different ideas. “Many 16-year-olds hold unrealistic ideas of what the Government can do, and will therefore vote for whoever claims they’ll do stuff they like.” I had to disagree – after all, aren’t us teenagers always being told that we are overly cynical and analytical? That’s why, even though Labour ‘promises’ to lower the voting age to 16, it does not follow that I would vote for them. I simply might not agree with the rest of their policies.
Admittedly, not all young people care about politics at all. If they were sent a polling card, it’d end up in the rubbish bin – not even deemed enough for recycling. We definitely need politics added to the school curriculum. But, for now, why limit us on the thoughts and actions of a few?
At least give us the choice to decide what happens to our own country.
It’s too late for me; by the time I’m finally old enough to vote in a general election, I’ll already be in my 20s. But there will be a new batch of 16-year-olds who will desperately want to have their voices heard and I hope the voting age will have lowered for them.