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The case for lowering the voting age

May 2022, no. 442

The case for lowering the voting age

May 2022, no. 442

In Australia today, many young people are actively engaged in politics. While adults often describe young people as disengaged, apathetic, or uninformed about politics, these perceptions and labels do not align with the reality. As Judith Bessant has pointed out, ‘[T]here is a long and rich history of political action by children and young people’ (Making-Up People: Youth, truth and politics, Routledge, 2020).

Young people participate in politics and civic life in multifaceted ways, particularly with their use of digital technologies and online platforms. In Australia, they are leading movements on climate action, are engaging with other young people internationally on pushing for change, and are initiating strategic litigation on key matters, including challenging the federal government’s inaction on climate change.

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Comments (2)

  • The main arguments for giving 16 and 17 year olds the vote are that this is a right they ought to be able to exercise and that, more positively, doing so would make our democracy more robust. These are emotive arguments based on values. The main evidence advanced for denying 16 and 17 year olds the vote is that most older people are opposed to the idea. Like so much else in Australian politics, that decides it.
    Posted by Mark Prendergast
    31 May 2022
  • Further to Faith Gordon's argument about the disenfranchisement of politically active sixteen year olds, I'd like to add that current sixteen year olds will not get a chance to vote federally until they are nineteen. In NSW they won't get a vote in the state election until they are twenty-one. The statutory terms of Australian parliaments means that most people must wait well beyond the age of eighteen for their first chance to vote.
    Posted by Susan Lever
    09 May 2022

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