The results of the EU referendum had led masses to flee to social media to express their undying rage. 16/17 year olds who weren’t able to vote argued that it was unfair that those who wouldn’t have to deal with the repercussions as, quoting one of my classmates, ‘they’ll be dead before the next sunrise’. Wanting a further outlet, many decided to sign petitions asking the voting age to be lowered… after the results had been announced. How brainless can you be?
Well, I am part of the questionable group who signed. No, it’s not because I wanted an anarchy – nor was it evidence to my Twitter followers that I am a frustrated, spoilt teenager who does not understand how democracy works. I signed because the results of the referendum did not occur the way I or the 82% of 1.46 million 16-17 year olds in the UK wanted, according to a poll run by The Student Room on the day of the results. Signing a petition for a referendum that had already passed gives an idea that the youth are frustrated of being understated. Speaking to Jeremy Corbyn, he told me that ‘yes, I believe they should have been able to vote [in the EU Referendum]. At sixteen you can work, you can pay taxes and at sixteen you can have an awful lot of responsibilities’.
Certainly, we will never find out whether would have tipped the votes enough for a ‘remain’ vote. Even the day after the results, I heard of eighteen year olds voting leave because their parents told them too. One of the most invalid reasons I have heard for my age group not being able to vote is because we’re vulnerable. If an eighteen year old can still be instructed by their mum on how to vote, then of course sixteen year-olds will be easier to command. My petulant comeback to that argument is that maybe eighteen year olds shouldn’t be allowed to vote. Many are manipulated. Take for example, Donald Trump fans who genuinely believe that somehow, he’ll get Mexico to pay for the wall. Instead, maybe we should be teaching the youth to think and make decisions for themselves otherwise they might become disengaged or worse, support false
promises. In 2014, the Electoral Commission Report stated that over 75% of 16-17 year olds voted in the Scottish Referendum. Not only was the turnout significant, it shows that we are able to be mature and inform ourselves in decisions that will ultimately affect our generation.
I am jealous of the fact that they were able to vote. A teacher of mine said that not allowing us to vote in the EU referendum shows that ‘if you’re Scottish, your independence matters more than other 16/17 year olds in the UK,’ and that really awakens the teenage angst in me, overriding my already limited knowledge of politics because of course, I’m not eighteen. Albeit, everyday I silently thank the higher powers that referendums are advisory. For now, I’ll just have to carry on politely nodding at my uncles who try to somewhat educate me on how the UK is a direct democracy.
Note: I actually did manage to meet Jeremy Corbyn – at Euston train station. What a lad.