MPs are to debate a bill aiming to reduce the voting age to 16, with the cross-party supporters of the measure arguing it is a long-overdue idea which would boost involvement in politics. The proposal is a private member’s bill, introduced by Labour MP Jim McMahon, and thus has relatively little chance of finding enough parliamentary time to become law, not least as the government does not back the idea. But it has not just official support from Labour, but also backing from the Liberal Democrats, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Greens, with the hope that McMahon’s bill could further push the idea on to the political landscape. The bill, officially titled the representation of the people (young people’s enfranchisement and education) bill, will receive its second reading on Friday, the initial opportunity for MPs to debate an idea.
While the idea of reducing the minimum voting age has been floated at various points in recent years, supporters argue that changes to the franchise in Scotland and Wales could help push the argument.
In 2015, 16- and 17-year-olds in Scotland were granted the vote for local and Scottish elections. They had been allowed to vote in the previous year’s independence referendum, with a claimed turnout of about 75% for the age group.
The Welsh government is currently consulting on changes to elections, including giving those aged 16 and 17 the vote.