Gumley conference debating lowering the UK voting age to 16

240 sixth form students from 4 different schools all discussing whether 16-year olds should be allowed to vote. 

During the day, we had five different speakers sharing their views on whether the voting age should be lowered to 16. These speakers included;

Jon Narcross, the electoral reform society. He works communicating the campaigning and research work of society in the media. The topic heading was: ‘Young people leading the way - the case for votes at 16’. 

Ruth Cadbury, member of parliament. Ruth Cadbury is a British labour party politician who has been a member of parliament for Brentford and Isleworth since gaining the seat from the conservatives at the 2015 general election. 

Julian Jessop, The institute of economic affairs. Julian Jessop is an independent economist with over thirty years of experience gained in the public sector, the city and consultancy. Topic heading: ‘why young people should care about politics'.

During the conference, we had 2 speakers take place in a debate. The first speaker, Zarina Bell-Gam was debating why ‘The house would maintain the voting age of 18’. Zarina has been captain of Team England for the world schools debating championships this year. The second speaker Jesse Williams was debating why ‘The house would lower the voting age to 16’. Jesse Williams studied his first degree in law at Lancaster University and received a full scholarship masters in entrepreneurship at Loughborough University. 

What did I learn during the conference? - The Pros and Cons of lowering the voting age to 16

Pro: Engagement in the youth
Voting is a habit, and those who start young are more likely to continue later in life. Some people argue that it’s easier for young people to pick up the habit when they’re in a relatively 

Pro: Engagement in parents
Research by an assistant professor in political science at the Copenhagen business school shows that parents vote more frequently when they’re trying to set an example for their children who have just reached voting age if their kids are still living with them 

Con: Young brains aren’t mature 
16 and 17-year olds are generally less mature than their older peers. The conversation reported that some people worry immature youths could be easily influenced or even coerced, into voting a certain way by adults. 

Con: 16-year olds lack many adult responsibilities 
Forbidding 16-year olds from voting is consistent with many other laws that govern their behaviour until they turn 18. As the law dictionary laid out, teens at age 16 aren’t allowed to work full time, apply for a credit card, participate in jury duty, or be held accountable for their own debts. 

Overall, after one conference I learnt the pros and cons of lowering the voting age to 16. I have also learnt about democracy and our rights, ideologies and party policies, the constitution and parliament. I now understand that the political decisions people make will affect many lives. Furthermore, I believe that every school in the UK should hold a conference to make all students more aware of the effects of being able to vote.  

written by: Nicole Stoby