Lower voting age 'a question of basic rights', campaigner tells MSN

"I was much younger than 16 when I became involved in politics," says Rhammel Afflick.

The 18 year-old, a campaigner for the electoral reform group Votes@16, spoke to MSN after Downing Street yesterday confirmed that the government is discussing plans to lower the age of voting for the upcoming Scottish referendum.

"I think it's a question of basic rights. Every year, thousands of people take part in youth elections across the UK... there are loads of young people who are politically engaged, who understand what is going on and want involvement.

"It seems unacceptable that young people have these big responsibilities but actually don't have any say over the issues that affect them."

In January, at the beginning of a consultation period on independence, Alex Salmond, the leader of the Scottish National Party, confirmed that he wished to lower the age limit, currently set at 18, to accommodate 16-17 year-olds.

Scotland's first minister needs to bridge a gap if plans for a split are to go ahead. A recent YouGov poll for the Fabian Society found that support for Scottish independence appeared to have dropped in the wake of the Olympics.

Just over one quarter (27%) of the 1,177 Scottish adults questioned said they believed Scotland should become an independent country.

Should the UK's voting age be lowered to 16?

35382 responses

  1. Yes

    17%
  2. No

    83%

Nearly two-thirds (60%) said they opposed independence while 13% questioned in the Scottish Mail on Sunday poll said they did not know.

If the law was to change, Scotland would see its electorate increased by 125,000 voters. This could potentially boost Salmond's chances at creating an independent Scotland when the referendum is held in late 2014, as younger voters in the country tend to be support nationalism.

The BBC reported that the government is not considering giving the vote to 16 and 17 year-olds in UK general elections and are denying that making the change for the referendum would establish a precedent.

Afflick, however, is still optimistic: "This is a big step forward, but this isn't the end. I think things can only go in our favour across the board."

What do you think? Should 16-17 year-olds be allowed to vote? Is this too young? Leave your comments in the section below.