, 11 tweets, 3 min read
Calls for #Votesat16 in all UK elections are widely seen as trendy and progressive. But their arguments are seriously flawed. Extending the franchise without proper debate and preparation would actually be deeply undemocratic... (1/11)
Most 16-year olds are still children living at home and going to school. There is enough pressure on them already. Just imagine the online barrage of political advertising they would face. Their votes are also more likely to be susceptible to influence by their parents. (2/11)
Advocates of lowering the voting age often say that 16 is the age at which you can marry or join the army. But at this age you would still require the consent of your parents or guardians (at least in England), and would not be eligible to serve in combat roles. (3/11)
At 16, the law does allow you to leave home or school, take a full-time job, become a company director, and have consensual sex with someone who is also at least 16. However, these are still not actions that society would usually encourage at such a young age. (4/11)
16 is the threshold for NICs, if you earn enough, and for receiving some state benefits. It is also the age at which you start to qualify for the National Minimum Wage. But, in general, your liability for taxes depends on your income and expenditure, not your age. (5/11)
It's surely more significant that you have to wait until 18 to take out a mortgage or credit card, serve on a jury, become a police officer, fight in the armed forces, get married without permission, see certain films, buy alcohol, tobacco, fireworks or a gun, or gamble. (6/11)
Some saying the voting age should be 16 still say that for buying alcohol or fags should be kept at 18 (or even raised). But if you can’t trust a child to make a relatively simple health choice on their own behalf, why allow them to decide the future of the entire country? (7/11)
In any event, it would surely be premature to change the law to allow 16 and 17-year olds to vote in a December general election. What time would this give them to come up to speed? Should we really make such a major change to the voting rules without proper debate? (8/11)
Extending the franchise would also require more investment in citizenship education and ensuring that young people hear a wide range of views. (For example, I’d like to see a module on the track record of socialism in other countries...) (9/11)
Similar arguments apply to any repeat of the 2016 EU referendum. Many MPs are claiming that they still can’t make an informed choice on a Brexit deal after more than 3 years of parliamentary debate. Why do they think 16-year old children would be in any better position? (10/11)
In summary, there is no quick substitute for experience of the real world. By all means, let’s do more groundwork for a lower voting age in future. For now, though, the threshold for UK elections and referendums should remain at 18. (11/11)
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