The Case For Votes At 16

We want our political system to recognise the abilities of 16 year olds

We want to be properly included in our society and shown the trust and respect that society expects of us, by giving us the right to vote. There are over 1.5 million 16 and 17 year olds in the UK who are still being denied this right. We are a campaign made up of young people, organisations and a network of politicians across the UK.

We’re ready for Votes at 16 because it will:


Votes at 16 will engage 16 and 17 year olds, who hold many responsibilities in our society, to influence key decisions that affect their lives and ensure youth issues are represented.

We believe it is impossible to justify the automatic and blanket exclusion of some 16 and 17 year olds from the right to vote because, at 16, the law allows a person to:

  • give full consent to medical treatment
  • leave school and enter work or training
  • pay income tax and National Insurance
  • obtain tax credits and welfare benefits in their own right
  • consent to sexual relationships
  • change their name by deed poll
  • become a director of a company
  • join the armed forces
  • become a member of a trade union or a cooperative society.


Votes at 16 will empower 16 and 17 year olds, through a democratic right, to influence decisions that will define their future

There are 1.5 million 16 and 17 year olds in the UK. These young people are knowledgeable and passionate about the world in which they live, and are as capable of engaging in the democratic system as any other citizen.

Participation in free elections is a fundamental human right (protected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UK’s Human Rights Act). Because of these laws the reasons for excluding people from the vote have to be fair and balanced.

16 and 17 year olds would be able to raise issues that are persistently affecting young people in their area and vote on whether the introduction of a policy would improve their area for the better.

Other countries have given their young people the right to vote. You can currently vote in the countries below if you:

  • Live in Argentina – voting is obligatory for people aged 18 to 70, but is optional for those aged 16 and 17 as of 2012.
  • Live in Austria
  • Live in Boznia and Herzegovina – 16 year olds can only vote if they are in employment
  • Live in Brazil
  • Live in Cuba
  • Live in Ecuador
  • Live in Estonia – only in local elections
  • Live in Germany – 16 year olds can only vote in some State and Municipal Elections
  • Live in Guernsey
  • Live in Hungary and are married before the age of 18, this grants you with full adult legal rights and can therefore vote
  • Live in the Isle of Man
  • Live in Jersey
  • Live in Malta
  • Live in Nicaragua
  • Live in Scotland – 16 year olds can vote in Scottish Parliamentary Elections and Local Government Elections
  • Live in Switzerland – only for cantonal and municipal elections in the canton of Glarus
  • Live in Wales – 16 year olds can vote in Welsh Assembly Elections and Local Council Elections


Votes at 16 will inspire young people to get involved in our democracy

16 and 17 year olds today are ready to engage and participate in our democracy, having learnt the principles in compulsory citizenship education. Through being a local youth councillor, a member of a youth parliament or their student union, they are already engaging in significant numbers. The next step is Votes at 16 – a move that would empower young people to better engage in society and influence decisions that will define their future.

  • citizenship education has been a compulsory part of the national curriculum in secondary schools since 2002.
  • 85% of secondary schools have school councils. about 20,000 young people are active in local youth councils, often working in close collaboration with local councils and public services.
  • there are 600 elected MYPs (Members of Youth Parliament) in the UK, each serving for 12 months and voted in by their peers. Established in 2000, the UK Youth Parliament has held debates in Parliament since 2008.