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POLL: Should 16-year-olds be allowed to vote?

POLL: Should 16-year-olds be allowed to vote?

James Hockaday

Voting age debate held by Slough Borough Council committee

Yes

No

I'm undecided

Cross-party support for lowering the voting age to 16 was expressed at a Slough Borough Council (SBC) overview and scrutiny committee meeting last week.

Councillors debated on whether the voting age should be lowered with the view to agreeing on a position to put to a vote by full council.

At the discussion at Chalvey Community Centre on Thursday, Aprill 12, Cllr Sunyia Sarfraz (Lab, Baylis and Stoke) said that while canvassing she has seen plenty of politically engaged under 18s.

“They have so much more to say than even the adults,” she added.

“I don’t understand how anyone would think this is a bad idea.

“Why are we just going to assume that when someone gets to 18 they’re going to say, ‘now I’m interested in politics.”

She said that just as politically disinterested adults do not vote, neither will unengaged 16 year olds.

“If we’re gong to provide them with the opportunity that’s their choice just like the rest of us,” she added.

Cllr Sarfraz was aged 22 when she was elected as a councillor in 2016, making her the youngest in the borough.

Cllr Satpal Parmar (Lab, Cippenham Meadows) was of a different view, claiming that 16 year olds he comes across ‘look too young’ and are not old enough to buy cigarettes or get married.

Councillors told him that 16 year olds have the legal right to marry.

Non-committee member Cllr Natasa Pantelic (Lab, Cippenham Meadows) pointed out that a 16-year-old can pay income tax and National Insurance, organise how their medical affairs are dealt with and can even be the director of a company.

Committee vice chair Cllr Wal Chahal (Con, Upton) said: “If they’re engaged in the process, if they have the desire to be involved, I think they should have the vote on that basis.”

Conservative councillors added caveats about voter fraud prevention.

“ID must be brought into the system,” said councillor Rajinder Sandhu (Con, Upton).

However not all Slough Conservative Group members are in favour of lowering the voting age.

After the debate, the group’s deputy leader Cllr Rayman Bains (Con, Upton) tweeted: “If voting was based on political awareness then we should all have to sit exams to vote! I question the political awareness of most of our councillors!

“We need a cut off point and 18 is the sensible cut off period. Political decisions should be informed by life experiences.”

Committee members agreed to support reform and to propose a motion for full council.

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