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The 2014 Youth Select Committee embarked on an inquiry into lowering the voting age to 16, where it will explore the issues and arguments around votes at 16.

The Youth Select Committee (YSC) is a British Youth Council initiative, supported by the House of Commons. The eleven committee members are aged 14-18 and include three Members of the Youth Parliament (MYPs), one former MYP, three youth councillors, a representative from the Scout Association and one elected representative from each of the devolved nations.

Michael Hope, 17, Chair of the Youth Select Committee, from Dunbartonshire, said:

"With 16-year-olds in Scotland able to vote in this year's Scottish Independence referendum, the issue of whether the voting age should be lowered in all UK elections has become a live political issue. What would be the practical impact of lowering the voting age? Would citizenship education need to be beefed up to prepare young people to vote? It's important that politics engages with young people and as a Committee we look forward to hearing what people have to say about votes at 16."

The Committee had a clear mandate to focus on 'Votes for 16 and 17 year olds in all public elections', as the issue was voted as the priority UK-wide campaign of the UK Youth Parliament at their annual House of Commons debate in November 2013 and is an ongoing campaign of the British Youth Council.

The Youth Select Committee, looked at the following issues as part of its inquiry:

  • Should the age at which people are allowed to vote be lowered? Why/why not? If yes, to what age?
  • For what reasons is the voting age currently set at 18? What qualities mean that a person is ready to vote? Do 16 and 17-year-olds possess these qualities?
  • Should the age at which people are able to vote vary between types of election? For example, should the voting age be different for local and General elections?
  • What short term and long term effect would lowering the voting age have on voter turnout? Should the likely turnout of 16 and 17-year-old voters affect the decision on whether to lower the voting age?
  • What can be learned from countries where the voting age is lower than 18 or where lowering the voting age has been proposed?
  • What was the motivation for allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in the referendum on independence for Scotland? What can be learned from this example?
  • What would the practical implications of lowering the voting age be?
  • How effectively does citizenship education prepare young people to vote? How could it be used to prepare young people to vote?
  • What is the best way to engage young people with the political process?


Submitted Evidence

Read the evidence submitted to the Committee. 

Committee members

Meet the 2014 Youth Select Committee here.

The Report

The Youth Select Committee has launched its report 'Lowering the Voting Age to 16'. 

Contact the Youth Select Committee

Including press contacts. 

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