Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

The Young: Elections ... we want to vote but 16 is too young

Well over half of young people aged 16-18 believe they should be given the vote, our survey shows.

But, overall, two thirds of young people in Northern Ireland do not believe the voting age should be lowered from 18 by two years.

Almost 66% (362) of those who took part in our poll said the voting age of 18 should remain as it is.

Just 156 of the 550 respondents, slightly over 28%, were in favour of the change, with 5.8% saying they have no opinion.

A breakdown of the responses show it was mostly 18 to 24-year-olds who believe it shouldn't be lowered, with a majority of those in the 16 to 18 age bracket – some 57% – in favour of a change in legislation.

Those who back the lowering of the voting age see it as a crucial way of tackling voter apathy.

Supporters say those who vote when young are more inclined to engage with politics and vote throughout their lifetime.

Teenagers who will be 16 or older when the Scottish independence referendum is held later this year are entitled to vote. It is the first time in a UK political vote that people under the age of 18 have been allowed to participate.

In 2012 the Stormont Assembly voted to support lowering the voting age to 16. The DUP was the only party opposed to a joint Sinn Fein and Green Party proposal demanding the vote for 16-year-olds in all elections.

However Stormont does not have the power to change Westminster legislation.

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