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The Forum > General Discussion > Voting at 16?

Voting at 16?

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One of the issues raised at the 2020 Youth Summit was the idea that the voting age should be lowered to 16.
My own feeling is that the average 16 yr old does not have sufficient experience of the world to make an informed decision. I wonder if even the average 18 yr old has sufficient experience to make an informed decision. I know others will disagree but is there a difference between knowing what you want and having some idea of what is possible?
We all need to be better informed about many things before we vote but are teenagers too idealistic and too prone to the influences of peer pressure, advertising etc?
Do we need to take into account the biological development of the human brain which is still occurring at that age?
If voting was to be lowered to 16 should it perhaps be allowed to first elect some youth representation to local government so that young people can learn more about how elections function? Would that encourage more informed participation later?
Posted by Communicat, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 8:59:22 AM
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I'm for it, but should be optional rather than compulsory. A sixteen year old will reach adulthood in the term of the elected government, and it's not unreasonable for that child to have a say in who that government is.

A lot of sixteen-year-olds are interested in politics. It is likely that they might vote as their parents do or exactly opposite the way their parents do but it's a way of involving them in the issues starting them off on a lifetime of political engagment.
Posted by Vanilla, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 9:45:16 AM
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No way. They are still children and, it is now popular for apologists for these kids to 'explain' to us that the human brain is not fully mature until the age of 25.

Voting age, driving age, drinking age, should be raised, not lowered.
Posted by Mr. Right, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 10:05:53 AM
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I think that there shouldn't be any age limits on voting at all - rather, voting rights should be restricted to those who can demonstrate a basic knowledge of Australia's electoral systems and forms of government, perhaps by passing a written test.

Voting shouldn't be compulsory for anybody.
Posted by CJ Morgan, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 10:11:09 AM
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I'm for it.

That said, I didn't develop any interest in politics until I was into my 20s. However, that is not the point. There are many at 16 who are more politically astute than those at 60. It would also be relevant at school in political studies if these young people felt that they had something to say (by casting a vote) than simply studying politics at a removed and theoretical level. But it should not be compulsory, at least until 20, if at all. My personal jury is still out on the pros and cons of compulsory voting.

BTW Mr Right

Are you connected in anyway to Leigh? - you possess the same level of joie de vivre - I'm being ironic of course.
Posted by Fractelle, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 10:49:37 AM
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I'm with those proposing optional voting from 16. As others have said, age has little to do with how well informed we are. As for brain development, there are plenty of arguments on the other side of the coin. Should the elderly be prevented from voting since there's a reasonable chance of dementia?

Plenty of policy is formulated with young people in mind, so it's reasonable for young people to at least have the option of being part of the process.
Posted by chainsmoker, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 1:03:45 PM
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