Votes for 16 and 17 year olds in all public elections

Votes at 16 in all elections and referenda.

Political education and voting age  |  UK-wide

About the campaign

Our national campaign for 2017 – ‘Votes for 16 and 17 year olds in all public elections’

Over 978,000 young people voted in the UK Youth Parliaments Make your Mark ballot, with over 112,000 young people voting to make it one of their top five priority issues. In a subsequent vote in the House of Commons, Members of Youth Parliament voted to make this the national campaign UK Youth Parliament, along with the Votes at 16 Coalition, is campaigning for young people from the age of 16 to gain the right to vote in all public elections.

Why is this important?

16 and 17 year old 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 where by 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.

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For the campaign to be as affective 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.

What are we going to do about it?

  1. Widen the conversation- Increase the number of people who are engaged in Votes at 16.
  2. Increase support among decisions makers.
  3. Highlight young people’s participation in democracy.


When are we releasing more details and getting started?

It has already begun! The campaign launched during our National Day of Action on Friday 20th January 2017.

What’s been happening online?

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

I’m a Member of Youth Parliament – where can I find resources?

Download your toolkit.