Votes at 16

Wayne David, Labour MP for Caerphilly, has called on the Government to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in elections.

Speaking in a debate on the subject in Parliament, Mr David paid tribute to the work of organisations like the Caerphilly Youth Forum in representing the views of young people.

He also pointed out that in many areas of their lives 16 and 17 year olds are already treated as adults. Among other things, they can leave school and begin work in a full-time job, pay income tax, become a company director or even change their name by deed poll. Giving them the ability to cast their vote, Mr David argued, would be an extension of their responsibilities.

Members of Parliament last year voted overwhelmingly in favour of lowering the voting age to include 16 and 17 year olds. However, because it was a non-binding vote and the Conservative Party is opposed to extending the franchise, David Cameron has opted to ignore the clear view of Parliament.

The Welsh Assembly has also voted in favour of the voting age being reduced to include 16 and 17 year olds, although Assembly Members do not have the power to extend the voting age.

Speaking after the debate, Wayne David said, “When I visit schools and colleges throughout my constituency I am always impressed by the level of interest that the students have in politics and the issues that impact on their communities.

“I am disappointed that David Cameron has chosen to ignore last year’s vote in Parliament, where MPs clearly stated that the voting age should be lowered. If we want young people to engage in society, we must ensure they feel like their voice will be listened to. That is why I believe the time has come for votes for 16 and 17 year olds”.  

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