Alex Sobel has outlined his support for Votes at 16 and will vote to reduce the voting age in the House of Commons on Friday. A Private Members bill, brought by Labour MP Jim McMahon, will go before the house on Friday 3rd November.
Alex Sobel, MP for Leeds North West said “ I have long been a supporter of reducing the voting age but in the wake of Brexit, now is the time to reinvigorate our democracy and give young people a say in how we shape our country.”
“16 is not an arbitrary age. Todays 16 year olds are the new Citizen generation. The uptake in the National Citizens Service means that 16 and 17 year olds are engaged fully with the community. They can also work, pay taxes and serve our country within the armed forces. A sixteen-year-old’s passport will recognise them as an adult. Now is the time for our democracy to catch up and give them the right to vote.”
“The Scottish referendum showed us that when you empower young people, they will turn out as 75% of 16 and 17 year olds did in that vote three years ago. Scottish politicians of all parties are now in support of this bill.”
“We need to support young people and rebalance our political system to engage and empower them. Giving 16 and 17 year olds the vote will mean that politicians will have to start listening to young people and the issues that affect them most be that housing, university fees or employment opportunities.”
Leeds North West had an electorate of 68,152 in GE2017. With 16 and 17 year olds included that would rise to 69,193- an increase of 1,460.
On Friday 3rd November the 2nd Reading of Jim McMahon’s Private Members Bill will be debated to reduce the voting age to 16. The Bill will also include a requirement on Returning Officers to ensure reasonable steps are taken to register new voters and a requirement on schools to provide education on democracy and citizenship.
The Votes at 16 campaign was launched in January 2003 by a coalition of political parties, pressure groups and charities. The UK Youth Parliament is a supporter of the Votes at 16 campaign and calls for the reduction in voting age in its manifesto.
In June 2015 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) passed the Scottish Elections (Reduction of Voting Age) Act which enabled 16 and 17 year olds to vote in elections in Scotland.
The National Assembly for Wales is to be given the power to lower the voting age for its elections.
The Wales Bill 2016-17, currently before Parliament, will make provision for this.