Councillors in Maidstone Want to Let 16-Year-Olds Vote in Elections

Councillors in Maidstone would like 16-year-olds to have the right to vote in elections. The motion, proposed by Liberal Democrats, received “overwhelming support” according to Luke May of Kent Online.

Emily Fermor, a Liberal Democrat who was elected to Coxheath and Hunton ward when she was 23, said it was a “personal mission” to go into schools and the community to encourage young people to get involved in politics.

“Being disenfranchised and not being able to vote on the policies that make a huge impact on their lives is a real shame and it’s something that I think all parties are working towards addressing,” Fermor said.

Based on the article in Kent Online, one might get the impression this proposal is extremely popular, since everyone backed it apart from “a minority of Lib Dem Councillors, along with some Conservative councillors.” The rest of the write up features positive statements from people explaining why 16-year-olds should vote, and how the majority of Councillors agree with this view.

The Kent Online reader poll and comment section revealed different perspectives, however.

Initial Poll results

“Not this again. When will everyone realize this argument is a political vehicle used by the left and now amusingly by the Lib Dems as a thinly veiled power grab by garnering the votes of the easily malleable 16-18 year olds,” one reader said.

After the result of the Brexit vote in 2016, teenagers marched through London protesting, and saying they wanted the voting age to be lowered. The Evening Standard reported 70 per cent of those under 25 wanted to remain in the EU, whereas 58% of people over 65 voted to leave. Polling showed the older a voter was, the more likely they were to vote for Brexit.

According to May, Maidstone Borough Council intends to send an open letter to the government backing the proposal that 16-year-olds should have a right to vote.

“Just as well,” a reader called Boredinkent said. “It is a meaningless gesture as it is unlikely to ever become law – unless Corbyn gets into power.”

Photo: London, June 2016