During the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014, I remember seeing images of two schoolchildren entering a polling station. A boy and a girl, both in their school uniforms, were about to cast their ballots. I have never been in favour of votes at 16, but if there had ever been a smidgen of doubt in my mind, it was obliterated looking at those images. It didn’t look or feel right. Schoolchildren are by their very definition not adults, and only adults should be allowed to vote.
The boy and girl in question had to attend school later that morning. If they had not, their parents could, and probably would, have been fined. The law states that they are not responsible enough to purchase alcohol or tobacco. The law also states that they are not responsible enough to get a tattoo, book a session on a sunbed, or drive a car.
Once a 16 year-old leaves school, they can join the armed forces, however, no-one below the age of 18 is allowed on the front line. Those people who try to justify votes at 16 by telling you that a 16 year-old can die for Queen and country, are feeding you porkies.
At 16 they are not allowed to take out a personal loan, get finance for a car, or get a credit card. The minimum age for obtaining any form of credit is 18. Anyone under the age of 18 can’t buy fireworks. If they fancy a flutter on the Grand National, they can’t place a bet. The list goes on and on.
I’m not saying that all of the restrictions placed on under-18s are right. When I was 16 and 17 years old I manned a petrol station by myself. I couldn’t do that now; it’s illegal. But I bet that those who are clamouring for votes at 16 would not advocate eliminating the list of restrictions under-18s currently face. I don’t think we will see queue a people advocating selling booze at 16, letting them buy fags, or dying on a battlefield.
There has to be an arbitrary starting point when it comes to the voting age. The vast majority of countries across the world have settled on 18, and it’s for a very good reason. It’s when a child becomes an adult, and only adults should be allowed to vote.