Voting in all elections should be extended to include 16 and 17-year-olds, following the independence referendum, a study has suggested. The work by think tank dpart found lowering the voting age could increase youngster’s engagement with politics. It also found schools had more influence than parents in giving confidence in understanding politics. Those aged 16 and 17 were able to vote in the referendum on 18 September, the first UK ballot to include them. Researchers at dpart gathered evidence from two surveys of under 18s – one conducted in April and May 2013, and then a second conducted one year later. More than 1,000 young people responded to each survey.
They found under 18s were at least as interested in politics as adults. Only 7% had never talked about the referendum with anyone.
Young people were less likely than adults to align themselves with political parties, but the proportion who said they did not feel an affinity to one dropped in the year before the vote, from 57% to 51%.
Parents had a strong influence in encouraging young people to vote, but had less impact on how they voted, researchers found.