On the run up to the election last week I decided to chat to people about their thoughts on the voting age being lowered to allow 16 and 17 year olds to take part. The reaction was mixed and I got the impression that a lot of their thoughts were based on the worry that people were too young to make an informed decision on how this country should be run.

However, as a 22 year old I am able to see how much more engaged teenagers are in politics in comparison to a few years ago when I was that age. At school I took Modern Studies and therefore was quite interested in politics, but it wasn’t until I left school that I was able to vote for the first time. Had I been able to vote at 16 there would have been much more of a political presence at school and opportunities for debates between the students.

Although 16 is young, I feel if it is old enough to get married it is old enough to be able to vote. It encourages political interest at a younger age and perhaps means that the country does not lose some voters. At 18 years old, most people are in a transition period of moving into a job or further education. In this busy time it is possible that there are people who are not engaged that might have been if they had started a couple of years previously.

Research has shown that in other countries, 16 and 17 year-olds have a higher turnout rate than 18 to 24 year-olds. I imagine through the encouragement of families and schools, the vote does not get lost in the transition time between school and their next steps.

I had a conversation with a woman before the election and she said that she was very passionate about women voting. So passionate that she had brought out her elderly relative from her care home to the polling station even though she knew that her relative would vote against what she was voting for. After discussing what we would be voting for she said that she didn’t know why she was casting her vote in that way, it was just because she knew her parents had always done so.

Although having the voting age younger means that there will hopefully be more people engaged in the long run, it is important to think of the types of bias that may be relevant at a younger age. There is nothing wrong with voting how your parents vote at all if it’s also what you stand for. I do believe, however that everyone should have a clear understanding why their vote works for themselves. I know I am bad for this myself which is why I plan to get clued up on the EU Referendum before the vote in June. If you are not already registered please do so!

Any suggestions or comments can be emailed to nataliewsweeney@hotmail.co.uk or you can find me on Facebook.