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Giving the Young the Vote

There was a few news stories earlier this month about Prof David Runciman, The head of politics at Cambridge University, had proposed giving children as young as 6 the vote.

This was in response to the debate about dropping the voting age from 18 to 16, something I support, but the professor believed was too timid. This had forced me to think about why I think the age should be dropped. Initially, I think the idea of dropping it to 6 year olds is a silly idea, but why is an arbitrary age of 6 any worse than 16.

The professor's reason for the age of 6 is that the voter should be able to read for themselves. This makes sense, moving from an arbitrary age to a form of competence. I remember watching my friend going off to vote, they were 18 but my birthday wasn't for another 6 months and thinking "is there any measurable difference between us? If it wasn't for our birth certificates, could anyone actually tell the difference?".

I definitely think lowering the voting age such that you will likely get to vote when still at school is a good thing. It gives an opportunity to learn more about the issues in a proper learning environment rather than the Punch and Judy of newspapers and TV shows which are more interested in audience size rather than audience education.

I am not yet convinced that the correct answer is 6, but perhaps simply "attending secondary school" could work1, it ensures a certain level of education, but the pupils still get a lot of support.

Notes

  1. For now I will ignore that Scotland has a separate education system and is therefore not really comparable.
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