Dickson says lower voting age would help engage young people

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has said lowering the voting age to 16 would help engage a new generation of young people in politics.

Mr Dickson was speaking after attending the Northern Ireland Youth Forum’s Democracy Day event, which featured a call to reduce the franchise to 16-years-old. He said young people should have the right to vote in elections across the UK.

“It has been a long-standing Alliance policy to reduce the voting age to 16, and we have previously supported calls for it in both Assembly and Westminster elections. It is a move which was especially successful in the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, with many 16 and 17-year-olds taking the opportunity to have their voice heard by voting.

“If young people at 16 are old enough to work, join the armed forces and pay taxes, then it is only right they have a say in who makes those key decisions and how taxes are spent. If you pay taxes, then you deserve representation.

“Young people here are being left behind – by reducing the voting age we can encourage more of them to take an interest and get involved in the democratic process while still in education.

“We must show young people we regard them as equal citizens. Many of the decisions taken today will shape the rest of their lives, so it is vital they have a say in them.”

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