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Maidstone Borough Council emphatically agrees to support voting at 16

March 13, 2018 1:37 PM

Maidstone Borough Council is to formally write to the Prime Minister requesting that the voting age be lowered to 16, following a motion raised in the town hall by Liberal Democrat Councillors Brian Clark (South Ward) and Georgia Harvey (Bridge Ward). This follows the success of a similar motion at Kent County Council proposed by Cllr Clark when he served as a county councillor.

Proposing the motion, and highlighting the inability of 16 year olds to vote outside of Scotland and Wales, Cllr Clark stated, "16 year olds can sign up to join the armed forces, legally marry, have children, pay taxes and set up their own businesses, However, in much of the UK they cannot join the electoral register and, even where they can, they cannot vote in parliamentary elections."

The point was made that all the major political parties take great steps to reach out to a "young vote" only to find it to be elusive Elected members are encouraged to visit schools and local groups such as the scouts and girl guides, to talk about the political process and to engage in constructive debate on issues that affect the young.

Cllr Georgia Harvey and Cllr Brian Clark

Evidence suggests that at 16, prior to leaving home for university or to find work, voters hold views on issues affecting their local surroundings, and would likely express those views if allowed to vote. After casting their first vote, they are more likely to continue in future years after leaving home..

With a track record in engagement, including representation by nine young representatives on the Kent Youth County Council, the motion, which received an amendment concerning political education, gained overwhelming support from all of the major political groups at Maidstone Borough Councillors with party politics having been mostly set aside.

Cllr Georgia Harvey summed up, "Individuals gain many freedoms to change the course of their lives at 16, but they do not gain the right to choose who they wish to represent them politically. At a time when so many landmark political decisions are being made, decisions which will greatly affect the lives of the young, it is time to bring 16 to 18 year olds in from the cold and allow them to vote"