School of Politics and International Relations

Should the UK be raising rather than lowering the voting age?

7 January 2019

It is 50 years since Harold Wilson's government lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. Many now want the age at which people can vote to go even lower. Commentators have advocated for lowering the voting the age to 16 as you can join the army, get married and pay taxes at that age. Yet there are some good reasons to be a little sceptical of these arguments. As  Professor Phil Cowley notes, in reality these three options apply to very few sixteen and seventeen-year-olds. They are also not as clear-cut as proponents of votes at 16 often make out: “When you dig a bit deeper you discover that most of these things are really 18. You can join the armed forces at 16, but only with parental permission and you're not supposed to serve on the front line until you are 18. In England and Wales, you can only get married below the age of 18 with parental permission.”

Read more on the BBC website.