School of Politics and International Relations

Votes at 16: No demand, says polling expert

20 May 2019

Votes for 16-year-olds in UK elections are all but inevitable, but there is no public demand or obvious advantage to it, a voting expert has said. Professor Philip Cowley, from Queen Mary University of London, has written to the Welsh Assembly saying evidence from other countries with a lower minimum voting age suggests overall turnout would drop, because turnout for 16-and 17-year-olds tends to be lower than other groups. This was unless, he said, money was spent to specifically target the age group, like in the 2014 Scottish Independence referendum when 16-year-olds voted for the first time in the UK. "If young voters are ready to vote, then we should not need to allocate specific resources to mobilise them," he said. "That we do, indicates that they are not ready."

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