The snp recently revealed plans to lower the voting age in Scotland to 16 years old, on the basis that by age 16 you are considered adult enough to marry, join the Armed Services and pay taxes, but not vote for who oversees those things.
It has long been a sore point, particularly among politically aware 16 and 17 year olds, that they are essentially considered full members of society for everything except voting rights. The voting age is 18 in most democracies worldwide, but there are already some countries (and both Jersey and the Isle of Man) where the age has already been lowered to 16. It’s generally felt that by age 16, youths are politically aware enough be allowed to vote, but traditionalists in the uk and abroad have opposed this view.
However, the point stands that at age 16, people are held accountable for their own actions, they can legally have sex or join the Army, and they should have a fair and equal say in the running of the country.
However, there is a negative side to this. Particularly suspiciously minded commentators (and there are many) have put forward the idea that the snp only wishes to lower the voting age to benefit themselves in the future Independence Referendum. Possibly the basis for this is thinking that 16 and 17 year olds are more likely to have been forced to watch Braveheart 1500 or so times in the last week before Christmas at school, and will therefore be more open to the idea of an independent Scotland. Regardless of however suspect the motives are, lowering the voting age could be a step forward, but given that the snp plans would require a change in the law at Westminster, it doesn’t seem particularly likely any time soon.
Today’s society, many 16 year olds and those who support the change will argue, should decide more clearly at what age children become adults, and apply it across the board. It certainly seems bizarre that at 16 someone can make life, or have theirs taken in violent
Conflict, but they must wait two more years to kill themselves slowly with alcohol and tobacco, or get a say in all of this. Arguably, if we’re going to treat them like adults, then we should give them the opportunity to behave like adults. [Bryce Johnston]