One in three (34%) people believe the legal voting age should be reduced to 16, according to a poll.
Research of 2,000 adults found 42% think real change could happen if younger people’s voices were heard from an earlier age.
Half (49%) of those aged 25-34 believe 16-year-olds should be able to vote compared to 17% of over 65s who feel the same.
But while 49% of all respondents don’t believe 16-year-olds should be able to vote, 64% admitted they would have liked to have been able to do so when they were that age.
Of those who don't believe 16-year-olds should be given the vote, seven in 10 felt this way due to their lack of life experience.
The research was commissioned by The Body Shop, which alongside the British Youth Council, is calling upon the government to lower the voting age to 16 across the UK, with a petition galvanising support.
The brand also created a tool to explore who you might vote for in the next general election based on your thoughts on a wide range of topics.
Maddie Smith, managing director for the UK and Ireland at The Body Shop, said: “Young people today are more engaged with politics than ever, and their representation within politics impacts each and every one of us.
“Critics often feel that 16 and 17 is too young but these age groups have already demonstrated their high levels of understanding, bright ideas and spirited commitment to causes that are important to them.
“Not to mention the fact that many of the decisions made today, that they don’t currently have a say in, will have a direct impact on their future.
“If we want to ensure long-term enfranchisement and abolish the voting inequality that exists for young voters across the UK, then we need to lower the voting age to 16, opening up our democratic system to allow young people to enjoy their full rights as part of the electorate.”
The study found, across all age groups, 34% believe the legal voting age should be reduced to 16 for all elections in the UK, with half reasoning that it’s the right thing to do as these people are our future.
At the same time, 48% think it’s fair as they are also old enough to be taxed, use the healthcare system, pay rent and care for family members.
While 35% would welcome their progressive ideas and perspectives, after 31% said too many decisions are made by older people.
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But 60% were unaware of the existing postcode lottery meaning that 16-and-17-year-olds in Wales and Scotland are able to vote in local elections, but those in England and Northern Ireland can't – with 43% describing this as ‘unfair’.
When asked when they felt most ‘politically engaged’, younger ages came out on top with the most common answer being 18 and 25.
And 83% reckon young people today are more politically involved than when they were at the same age.
It also emerged seven in 10 believe the current government is out of touch, while 62% reckon politicians are all the same regardless of the parties they represent.
The NHS and healthcare (64%) were the issues current voters care about most, according to the OnePoll data – double the number who selected the environment (30%).
A spokesperson for the British Youth Council said: “Young people should absolutely have a voice that is heard.
“It’s great to see how politically involved young people are, and even if they’re not able to vote, there’s still lots they can do to have a say in the issues that matter to them.
“Volunteering to help in your community, joining a youth parliament or supporting local political parties you’re interested in can be a great way to learn about politics.”
TOP 10 REASONS TO LOWER THE VOTING AGE TO 16, ACCORDING TO PRO-CHANGE RESPONDENTS:
- They are our future
- They are old enough to be taxed, use the healthcare system, pay rent and care for family members
- Decisions made affect their futures most
- It's unfair that 16 and 17-year-olds can vote in some parts of the UK but not others
- They can have progressive ideas and perspectives
- To encourage a greater understanding of the world around them/politics
- Too many decisions are being made by older people
- They have different life experiences to other generations
- They're more concerned about climate change than older generations
- They are as informed as people over 18 on key voting issues
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