Closed petition Do not reduce the voting age to 16, it must remain 18 years of age

The voting age must remain at 18, you cannot drink, smoke or even sign most contracts amongst other things until the age of 18 so how can a 16 year old possibly make an informed choice on who is best to run the country

This petition closed early because of a General Election Find out more on the Petitions Committee website

12,621 signatures

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Government responded

This response was given on 1 November 2019

The Government has no plans to lower the voting age. The age of 18 is widely recognised as the age at which one becomes an adult. Full citizenship rights should be gained at adulthood.

The Government has no plans to lower the voting age, having been elected on a manifesto commitment to retain the current franchise for parliamentary elections at 18. An individual below the age of 18 is treated as a minor in both the foster care system and the criminal justice system. Such an individual cannot buy alcohol or cigarettes. Full citizenship rights, including voting, should be gained at adulthood. The issue of lowering the voting age has been debated frequently and most recently it has been defeated in the House of Commons in 2005, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

The age of 18 is recognised in the vast majority of democratic countries as the age at which an individual becomes an adult. Accordingly, the vast majority of liberal democracies worldwide consider 18 the right age to enfranchise young people. This includes the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and almost all European Union countries.

While it is true that young people are able to do certain things at the ages of 16 and 17, full citizenship rights are not accrued until an individual reaches their 18th birthday. For example, citizens are not called upon to participate in jury service until the age of 18 or above. Those under the age of 18 also require parental consent in order to join the armed forces reserves. Young people in the reserves cannot be sent into action before the age of 18.

The Government recognises that young people wish to be involved in the political process and believes it important that children and young people feel engaged in decision making. To encourage this, the Government has launched the Parliamentarian Youth Engagement Toolkit in 2018 as well as a secondary School’s Resource in autumn 2018. The Government has also delivered a suite of activity focused on promoting democratic engagement among young people across the UK. In particular, the Government has funded Young Citizens to deliver the Democracy Ambassadors scheme and recruit 1,000 young people as Democracy Ambassadors across England. The Government has also provided funding for the UK Youth Parliament, Youth Select Committee and Make Your Mark ballot which support young people between 11-18 years old to raise issues on local and national levels and get involved in democracy.

In 2018 the Government launched the inaugural National Democracy Week which convenes civil society organisations such as UK Youth, Elevation Networks and Patchwork Foundation to deliver targeted democratic engagement activity. The second National Democracy Week took place between 14-20 October 2019.

Cabinet Office