Should 16 and 17-year-olds have the right to vote? Sussex readers have their say
The debate has been reignited by the news that teenagers aged 16 and 17 will have the right to vote in the Welsh Parliament election in May.
We decided to ask our readers whether they thought England should follow suit. On the whole it seemed to be a 50/50 split between the yes and no camps.
Emi-Rose Brown argued the teenagers should be given the vote. "If you actually engage our younger people in conversation rather than just assuming that they’re not mature enough, you’d probably realise they’re actually pretty savvy and intelligent. Last election my youngest wasn’t old enough but he talked way more sense than many others with the power to vote."
Stephen Newte agreed, writing on the West Sussex County Times Facebook page: "We get back to the argument about if you are responsible to marry and have children why are you not responsible enough to vote on something which will be for five years only. Or the argument about no taxation without representation. You are old enough to work, pay NI and tax so why not be able to vote on the people who decide these things."
Amanda Turner, wrote on the Chichester Observer Facebook page: "For everyone saying no. You must believe that they are too young to make sensible decisions. In that case why is it acceptable for someone of 16 to sign up to the armed forces and give their life for their country but no be allowed to help decided what should happen in that country."
Niks Bee said they should be given the vote, adding: "They are intelligent, engaged, interested and concerned about the world they are inheriting. They are far more likely to research and make informed decisions about their vote, than blindly follow their parents, than the average Mail reading 50+ voter who ticks the same box year in year out without bothering to actually properly research what they are voting for “because that’s what they’ve always done.” The youngsters are taught about current affairs in school too. The 16 year olds who aren’t interested, won’t bother turning out anyway."
However, not everyone thought they were ready to vote at that age, with some readers even arguing the voting age should be increased.
Steve Truman wrote on the Littlehampton Gazette Facebook page: "They say that the human brain doesn't stop growing and developing until your early 20s, so if anything, the voting age should be higher."
Rachel Grant wrote on the Eastbourne Herald Facebook page: "I think politics/current affairs/money management should be a compulsory subject at school and THEN we would prepare our children for mature decisions they may have to make like voting otherwise it’s just a cross in a box..."
Jo Ardley wrote: "No. At 16 most of them are still adolescent children that don't know their own minds let alone understand the intricacies of politics, regardless of whether or not they have studied politics in school. It won't hurt the more clued up youngsters to wait another couple of years."
While Louise Maria wrote on the Hastings Observer Facebook page: "Some adults aren’t even competent at making an educated vote with a real understanding of what they are voting for... let alone 16 year olds."
However Scott Sellens commented on the Hastings Observer Facebook page: "It's absurd some people are claiming young people shouldn't vote or that the voting age should even be raised. You can't expect young people to contribute and be part of society in a responsible way, and yet at the same time exclude them from having a voice and refusing to let them participate in one of the most basic rights in any democracy. People can be uninformed politically regardless of age."