CUTTING the minimum voting age to 16 will be considered in a review of the electoral system.

One group in favour today said the move was long overdue.

The Votes at 16 Campaign said many young people were being denied the chance to have their say when they wanted to.

Consultation is being opened by the Electoral Commission, which advises the Government on how elections can be modernised.

It said it was "increasingly concerned" about falling turnouts.

At present people have to be at least 18 to vote and 21 to stand as a candidate.

The turnout among 18-24 year olds fell to just 39% at the 2001 General Election, according to Mori.

This happened as the British Household Panel 2001-02 survey found that nearly 30% of 15-17 year olds reported being either very or fairly interested in politics - higher than the equivalent figure for 18-20 year-olds.

Electoral Commissioner Glyn Mathias said: "The right to vote is one of the most important you can have in a democratic country.

"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."

He said the Commission was starting the review with a completely open mind and wanted to hear from as many people as possible, particularly young people.

By October 31, the Commission hopes to have gathered a wide range of views, including those from people who may not normally be interested in politics and voting.

We asked people aged 16 and under in Huddersfield whether they would like to be able to vote.

We also asked over-16s what they thought about 16-year-olds getting the vote.

They included Emma McIlwrick, 25, of Cowlersley, who said she had never voted.

She said all the politicians argued on every issue and she still didn't understand many of the policies at her age now, let alone at 16.


Name: Sarah Churchman

Age: 26

Lives: Leeds Road, Bradley Mills

Says: Young people could be too easily swayed by the views and ideas of their friends. She said they did not have enough information at their disposal to make informed choices.


Name: Lisa Batley

Age: 24

Lives: Meltham

She says: Some 16-year-olds would have a valid opinion depending how mature they were. "Some girls are pregnant at 16 or even mothers and bringing up children, so they will have an opinion on the way the country should be run," she said.


Name: Alex Woodrow

Age: 16

Lives: York ( visiting Huddersfield to play the organ in St Paul's Hall)

He says : "Certainly not." Alex said young people were not offered politics as an academic subject until A level and could not be expected to make an informed choice at 16. He said giving the vote to 16-year -olds would lead to an abuse of the system. It could lead to extremism which would have drastic consequences for society.


Names: Bill and Irma Moylan

Lives: Lepton

He says: "We have two sons aged 21 and 25 and they would certainly not have been mature enough at 16 to vote. "You only have to pick up a newspaper or look around at young people today to see they have no self-discipline or information at hand to make such an important decision like how the country is run.

She says "Young people are more impressed by their peers than politicians. They follow the group. They don't have their own identity or mature views at 16."