Young people should vote from the age of 16

Political education and voting age

About the campaign

Our national campaign for 2019 – ‘Votes for 16 and 17 year olds in all public elections’

Over 1.5 million 16 and 17 year olds are currently unable to vote in elections and referendums across the UK. This has been a key issue for the UK Youth Parliament for multiple years and was voted for by over 80,000 11-18 year olds in the 2018 Make Your Mark ballot. Following the ballot, Members of Youth Parliament voted in the House of Commons for ‘Votes at 16’ to be the leading national campaign for 2019. Young people are passionate to take part in democracy and want to be involved in the discussions that affect their daily lives. Until the government lowers the voting age across the UK, many young people will not get the right to vote on the issues that affect them.

Members of Youth Parliament will now work alongside the Votes at 16 Coalition, to campaign for young people to gain the right to vote in all public elections from the age of 16.

Why is this important?

16 and 17 year-olds are not granted the opportunity to influence key decisions that affect their lives on a day to day basis. This means that many of their concerns are dismissed despite the fact many young people will engage when given an authentic opportunity.

It is also important to highlight that not all 16 and 17-year-olds across the UK have the same rights. In Scotland, 16 and 17-year-olds have been allowed to vote in all Scottish elections since May 2016. This step in the right direction was impacted hugely by the results of the Scottish referendum whereby 75% of 16 and 17-year-olds turned out to vote. This just goes to show that when young people are given the opportunity to influence a decision that shapes their future, they are eager to get involved.

Finally, there are no justifications for not aligning the rights of 16 and 17 year-olds with their responsibilities. Over 1.5 million 16 and 17 year-olds are denied the right to vote but are allowed by law to;

  • Give full consent to medical treatment;
  • Pay income tax and National Insurance
  • Obtain tax credits and welfare benefits in their own right
  • Consent to sexual relationships
  • Get married or enter a civil partnership, with parental consent;
  • Change their name by deed poll;
  • Become a director of a company;
  • Serve in the armed forces but not deployed on the front line.


For the campaign to be as effective as possible the UK Youth Parliament believe that it is important to get everyone involved. From Parliament to playground, it is essential that everyone engages in the conversation and takes action on the campaign.

We would like to take action in lowering the voting age – through:

  1. Holding conversations and debates in schools and youth groups across the UK and inform decision makers of the outcomes
  2. Gaining further support from decision makers on a local and national level
  3. Creating a wider conversation to increase engagement and continue to inspire young people to take part in democracy

What’s been happening online?

You can follow all the action on Twitter via #Votesat16.

Campaign Briefing and Toolkit
Campaign PowerPoint

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