We need to make teens equipped to vote

With last year’s chaotic general election over and the steady lead up to Brexit, discussions have been circling in the media about whether or not 16-year-olds should be eligible to vote in the future.

Friday, 24th January 2020, 11:40 am
Voting

While it was not approved for the previous general election, Labour continues to promise in their manifestos, to open up the vote to 16-year-olds, vowing that the youth of today are an important part of society and should have a say.

After all, we are voting for policies and changes that will be most significant in their lifetime.

Rather than arguing whether or not it is ‘nonsense’ (Jeremy Vine, Channel 5), we should consider it as a possibility and work to make sure 16-year olds are properly equipped to handle such a responsibility.

Voting boxes are brought into the hall for counting.

It is extremely important to educate yourself on each party and their policies, so that you can make the best choice for you. If you are at an impressionable age, such as 16-18, it is essential that you are in control of your vote.

When I was 16 years old, I was very much influenced by my parents’ opinions and beliefs on society and politics that I didn’t have my own opinion.

I am very grateful that the voting age wasn’t 16 at this time as I would have made a clouded and manipulated judgement, for which I do not stand for now.

What is right for your parents, and what is right for you, may be completely different. Have this in mind and try to keep up with politics as best as you can, so you are aware of what is going on around you.

Voting Day (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images)

Make sure you watch the news regularly or download news apps that will send headlines and breaking news to you as a notification.

If your family is comfortable talking about politics openly and neutrally, then ask as many questions as you can.

Don’t feel like you’re unintelligent because you don’t know much about the government and politics, it’s the government themselves that need to put funding into education so that you learn about these things in class.

However, if you are a part of the voting age, make sure you do go out and vote.

You may think that your one vote will not change anything, however, you’re not the only person who feels that way. As a collective, you all make a huge difference in the outcome of the election by choosing not to vote.

I spoke to many people last year, particularly family members, who said they chose not to vote as they didn’t like any of the party leaders.

This is a problematic way of looking at the parties, as you’re focusing on the front man (or woman) rather than what they stand for and what they promise, if they get the majority vote.

Many people, especially women, fought and died for the chance to vote, don’t waste an opportunity that women used to not have.

If you have an opinion and you want a say in your future, then don’t be a part of the 32.6 per cent of non-voters (Last year’s figures of non-voters).

Perhaps we should have laws in place, similarly to Australia, where it is mandatory to register and vote.

Finally, something that does need to change in the education system is informing children and young adults about how to vote, why it is important to vote, and basic key policies of each party so that they are aware.

We have to understand that not every child has access to unlimited internet at home to research, and not every parent is comfortable sharing their political views, even with their family.

When I was in secondary school, my school did not have a ‘general studies’ class, therefore we weren’t taught about what was happening outside of the school walls.

Many young people are not going out to vote because they feel as though they are not properly informed,

or maybe they are simply not interested in researching themselves.

If it becomes a mandatory topic in schools, then the number of votes from young people will surely increase.

It’s time for change.