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18 August, 2003

Young people consulted on voting age

In July the Electoral Commission announced that it will be seeking widespread views on whether the minimum age for taking part in elections should be changed.

At present, voters must be at least 18 and electoral candidates at least 21. The Electoral Commission is an independent organisation that advises government and politicians on how elections can be modernised. The Commission is looking at whether the minimum ages for voting and candidacy should be changed, partly in response to recommendations made by a project carried out by the Children and Young People's Unit. 'The right to vote is one of the most important you can have in a democratic country,' said Electoral Commissioner Glyn Mathias. 'The key question for this review is whether young people under 18 should be given that right to vote or be able to stand as a candidate before they are 21. The Commission starts this review with a completely open mind on these issues and we do want to hear from as many people as possible, especially young people themselves.' The Commission has become increasingly concerned about declining rates of participation in UK elections, especially amongst young people. MORI estimated that turnout amongst 18-24 year olds fell to just 39 at the 2001 general election. Share

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