Votes for 16 and 17 year olds in all public elections in the UK
UK Youth Parliament: Campaigning / Leading

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Votes for 16 and 17 year olds in all public elections in the UK


For young people across the UK to be enabled to vote in all public elections and referenda from the age of 16.

Hopes and Challenges

For the campaign to be as affective as possible the UK Youth Parliament believe that it is important to get everyone involved. From Parliament to playground, it is essential that everyone engages in the conversation and takes action on the campaign.   Especially we need to:

1) Widen the conversation- Increase the number of people who are engaged in Votes at 16.
2) Increase support among decisions makers.
3) Highlight young people’s participation in democracy.

The campaign launched during our National Day of Action on Friday 20th January 2017.  You can follow all the action on Twitter via #Votesat16.

Activity Description

16 and 17 year old in the UK are not granted the opportunity to influence key decisions that affect their lives on a day to day basis. This means that many of their concerns are dismissed despite the fact many young people will engage when given an authentic opportunity.  However the situation is not the same across the UK.  In Scotland, 16 and 17-year-olds have been allowed to vote in all Scottish elections since May 2016. This step in the right direction was impacted hugely by the results of the Scottish referendum where by 75% of 16 and 17-year-olds turned out to vote. This just goes to show that when young people are given the opportunity to influence a decision that shapes their future, they are eager to get involved.

Finally, there are no justifications for not aligning the rights of 16 and 17-year-olds with their responsibilities. Whilst they are denied the right to vote, 16 and 17-year-olds in the UK are allowed by law to:

  • Give full consent to medical treatment;
  • Pay income tax and National Insurance
  • Obtain tax credits and welfare benefits in their own right
  • Consent to sexual relationships
  • Get married or enter a civil partnership, with parental consent;
  • Change their name by deed poll;
  • Become a director of a company;
  • Serve in the armed forces but not deployed on the front line.