Over in the United Kingdom, where there is serious talk of lowering the voting age, the Youth Citizenship Commission asked for submissions by the general public on whether the voting age should be lowered to sixteen. The results were overwhelmingly positive:
The consultation ran from November 2008 – January 2009, with the government-backed Commission receiving 488 responses. Of this 66% backed lowering the voting age to 16 and the majority backed lowering the voting age to 16 in all UK elections.
For more details on the YCC’s finding, go to its to its Summary Report
This is a very big issue in the UK. The Electoral Reform Society, which has studied the idea extensively, also backs lowering
the voting age to 16. According to Chief Executive Ken Ritchie, lowering the voting age would allow young people to put the civics training they already receive to a practical use.
Lowering the voting age and improving citizenship education are not mutually exclusive. 16 and 17 year olds are the first generation to have ever studied democracy and citizenship, and their demand for more information should be seen as a positive thing.
But a real gap has emerged between learning and putting that education into practice. We can’t risk separating voting off from all the work that has been done over the years to promote and develop citizenship among young people.
Lowering the voting age to 16 would reflect and support citizenship education and youth participation programmes, linking the formal democratic process to their understanding of citizenship.
The Electoral Reform Society join a host of organizations that have come out in support of lowering the voting age to 16.
These include the British Youth Council, the National Union of Students.
The people are speaking. It’s time that the politicians do their part. Now we have to develop and strengthen this movement in the USA!