Manchester MP to be heard at Parliament over lowering the voting age

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Manchester Labour MP is set to have a second reading of private members bill to try reduce the voting age from 18 to 16.

On 3rd November 2017, Jim McMahon, Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton, will try to get his fellow MPs on board for the age to be dropped for both local and national elections.

McMahon said: “The fact that there is cross-party support to lower the voting age shows that the political appetite for change is there.

“It’s been discussed in the past, and action has often been shelved. But now the time has come to make this a reality.

“If we want to have discussions about civic engagement and educating a new generation in the importance of being politically aware, then empowering young people to vote is the springboard we need – above all, it’s the right thing to do if we care about strengthening our democracy.”

There are currently 1.5 million 16 and 17 year olds denied the right to vote in the UK.

Labour, Liberal Democrats, SNP and the Green party all supported reducing the voting age to 16 in their manifestos for the recent general election. During the Scottish referendum on independence 16 and 17- year-olds were given the right to vote by the Scottish government.

When voting was first introduced in the 13th century, it wasn’t until 1969 that the voting
age for both men and women was set at 18.

Previously, up until 1832 only one in five men were eligible to vote, with requirements including owning your own property and paying local taxes.
This is not the first time that the prospect of a lower voting age has been brought to the forefront of British politics.

In 2002 Lord Lucas first introduced the bill in the House of Lords with a second reading held in 2003.

Though the age that a person can become an MP was lowered to 18, the Electoral Commission did not recommend lowering the voting age to 16 saying there was not enough public support for it.

Since November 2015 there have been many significant milestones in the history of the votes at 16 campaign.

Labour and Liberal Democrat peers joined forces to back votes at 16 in the EU referendum bill, though it was initially accepted when peers defied the House of Commons, it was later turned down in July 2015.

The 2017 general election where young people aged 18-24 turned out in greater numbers than at any other point in 25 years, which brought them in line with older voting age groups.

A spokesperson for the ‘Votes at 16’ campaign said: “By lowering the voting age to 16 it properly includes us in our society and shows us the trust and respect that society expects of us by giving us the right to vote.”

Liam Raymond, 17, from Macclesfield believes the voting age should be lowered to 16 saying: “16 year olds can work, pay taxes, get married, have children, and serve in the army.

“All of these reasons are why I believe 16-year-olds should have the right to vote;  they are adults in every other aspect.”

Young people who do wish to see the voting age lowered to 16 are advised to lobby their local MP to be at Parliament on November 3rd for the reading. Alternatively, join the campaign at http://www.votesat16.org/

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