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Give 16 and 17-year-olds the vote - York council leader's call to Deputy PM
THE leader of City of York Council has called on Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to give 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote in local elections.
In an open letter addressed to the Lib Dem leader, Coun James Alexander said he welcomed the right for those aged 16 and 17 to vote in the Scottish referendum, but said it begged the question why the same age group was unable to choose its own councillors.
He said: “Given the responsibilities and freedoms we give to 16 and 17-year-olds in other aspects of their lives, I think the time has come to give them a right to participate in the decisions which will impact on them.
“In York we already have a Youth Council which is elected by younger people, who actively engage with local issues and represent the voice of younger people.
‘‘They are interested and informed about a wide range of issues which affect their lives. I don’t believe their views are any less valid than the views of those only slightly older.
‘‘On the contrary, their engagement with local government at a young age is hugely positive and is likely to stay with them.”
However, teenager Ella Boorman, 15, a Manor School pupil and York’s member of the National Youth Parliament, said she didn’t think it was right for 16 and 17-year-olds to be given a vote - at least not yet.
She said the quality of political education in schools wasn’t yet good enough.
‘‘If you ask most young people about politics, they think it is really boring’’. She said political education in schools needed to be much better, to get young people switched on to the importance of politics much earlier, then they would be engaged for life.
“But at the moment I don’t think there’s a good enough political education in schools.
‘‘That’s got to be in place before we offer votes to 16-year-olds,’’ she said.