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1/25/2018 7:38:29 AM
Posted: 12/7/2003 9:33:46 AM EST

'Votes at 16' plan as Blair courts youth

Bid to engage young and combat apathy

Kamal Ahmed, political editor
Sunday December 7, 2003
The Observer

Teenagers will be given the vote at 16 in a historic move being considered by 10 Downing Street and the Department of Constitutional Affairs.

In a signal that the Government wants a major debate on this contentious issue and sympathises with those who argue that the voting age should be lowered from the present 18, Lord Falconer, the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, said it was a vital debate and part of the reform agenda he wanted to pursue. 'I think it is a very important issue,' he said in an interview with The Observer.

'We expect more and more of people in relation to personal participation, we expect more and more in terms of social responsibility, in my view rightly, from people, particularly young people.

'If we want to both engage young people and make them discharge their responsibilities then I think there's got to be a quid pro quo of letting them see greater influence in the political process.'

Whitehall officials said that the positive response to the issue was part of a wider 'radical agenda' on constitutional reform. The Government wants to be seen to be tackling the growing sense of disillusionment among the young about politics and also show that it still has the stomach for far-reaching policies despite chronic political problems over top-up fees for university students and House of Lords reform.

Falconer, who sits in the Lords, also revealed for the first time that he wants to have a further debate about 'democratising' the House which the Government now plans to replace with a second chamber appointed by a Government-backed committee.

The Government has been criticised for the move, to be announced in a Bill in the New Year. Opponents say it will allow hereditary peers to be replaced by 'Tony's cronies', candidates backed by the Prime Minister.

Falconer said the Government would shortly respond to an inquiry set up by the Electoral Commission into voting age. Expected to report in the New Year, the commission is considering whether to recommend the change which would put Britain ahead of all its European part ners, where the voting age is 18. The commission is also considering recommending reducing the age at which somebody can stand to be a Member of Parliament from 21 to 18.

'Now, how do you do that?' Falconer said when asked how young people could be encouraged to get involved in mainstream politics. 'One might well be able to give teenagers the vote at 16 rather than 18. We need to have a debate about that.

'The engagement of young people, I don't mean just people between 16 and 18, but from teenage onwards, is a critical problem and an issue that we need to face. There needs to be a better connection between all aspects of the state and institutions and young people. It is something we are discussing.'

Supporters of the proposals argue that as teenagers pay tax, can serve in the armed forces and can get married with the consent of their parents, they should also be given the vote.

Commission officials say that counter arguments include that teenagers lack the political maturity to vote at that age and that it would put Britain in an anomalous position compared to other western democracies.

On the Lords, Falconer said he wanted to produce fresh proposals for a democratic element for the second chamber after the present legislation has been passed.

The Government is facing a Lords revolt on the issue and irritation from its own backbenchers, who argue that the present proposals do not go far enough.

Falconer said that he would not give ground on the initial proposals, but would then look at 'all the options' for the next stage of reform. 'We are utterly determined to proceed with our House of Lords Reform Bill,' he said.

'It removes from any prime minister the power to determine what the size of the [second] House is and the size of the political parties in that house and it removes the remaining hereditaries.

'Once this becomes law it will look utterly remarkable that this power persisted for so long. It is inconceivable that any developed democracy could have a system where its second chamber [could have its] shape and size changed by the Government of the day.

'I think it is right to say that there needs to be a further debate about what happens after the current proposals for Lords reform and there needs to be a debate about composition and about what we are looking for out of a second chamber.

'That obviously raises issues about the extent to which you should have elected element. But it also raises the issue about exactly what the relationship between the Commons and the Lords should be.

'We do not say the changes we make in this House of Lords Bill represent the end of the road.'
Link Posted: 12/7/2003 9:39:32 AM EST
Link Posted: 12/7/2003 1:34:29 PM EST
Link Posted: 12/7/2003 2:05:48 PM EST
Personally I think we should raise the voting age to 25. Now that I'm old, screw those youngsters.
Link Posted: 12/7/2003 2:16:57 PM EST
[Last Edit: 12/7/2003 2:17:46 PM EST by 1911Shootist]
It's all those rotten teeth. The decay has spread upward and has infected their brains. Either that or wide spread Mad Cow's Disease.
Link Posted: 12/7/2003 7:13:30 PM EST
"In recent studies, which included functional magnetic resonance imaging, compared the activity of teenage brains to those of adults done at McLean Hospital Brain Imaging Center in Boston, Massachusetts, researchers found that when processing emotions, Adults have greater activity in the frontal lobes than teenagers.  Teenagers have greater activity in amygdala. As teenagers age into adulthood, the overall focus of brain activity shifts from the amygdala to the frontal lobes.  (Interestingly, recent studies suggest that the ageing process may reverse that movement, especially in people who suffer from Alzheimer’s.)" "The frontal lobes have been implicated in behavioral inhibition and the ability to control emotions and impulses; where decisions about right and wrong and cause-effect relationships are processed."   "The amygdala is part of the limbic system and is involved in instinct 'gut' reaction responses, 'including fight or flight'.  Lower activity in the frontal lobes could lead to poor control over behavior and emotions.  Higher activity centered in the amygdala region may be associated with high levels of emotional arousal and reactionary decision-making." "The results from the McLean study suggest that while adults can use rational decision-making processes when facing emotional decisions, adolescent brains are simply not equipped to think through things the same way.  For example, when faced with the decision of whether to get into a car with a drunk driver, an adult sees the danger and makes a decision based on that perceived danger, but the adolescent may make the decision based on a perceived impact on friendships." – From an article on the [url=http://www.jjmnt.org/uniqueness.htm]Juvenile Justice system[/url]
Link Posted: 12/7/2003 7:39:39 PM EST
Originally Posted By Ratters: Personally I think we should raise the voting age to 25. Now that I'm old, screw those youngsters.
View Quote
HEY! Only raise it to 23. We can bump it up to 25 in a couple years. [:D]
Link Posted: 12/7/2003 8:40:58 PM EST
Hell, I'm 17 and I don't like this idea. Don't much like my peers, either.
Link Posted: 12/7/2003 9:31:35 PM EST
The current premise here is the right one: If you're old enough to die for your country, you're old enough to have a hand in choosing it's leaders... The minimum voluntary service age is 18 (w/o parental consent), so the voting age should be 18 too...
Link Posted: 12/7/2003 9:42:23 PM EST
Where is [b]BRITTAN[/b]?
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 3:07:22 AM EST
Yeah, last time I was there it was called England and/or Britain.
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 3:20:18 AM EST
[Last Edit: 12/8/2003 3:21:18 AM EST by 95thFoot]
Originally Posted By Dave_A: The current premise here is the right one: If you're old enough to die for your country, you're old enough to have a hand in choosing it's leaders... The minimum voluntary service age is 18 (w/o parental consent), so the voting age should be 18 too...
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...and the drinking age, too? After all, "If you're old enough to die for your country, you're old enough to" (insert adult activity of one's choice here).....
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