The Irish Second Level Students Union (ISSU) calls for the voting age to be reduced for local government and European Parliament elections to 16.
Ensuring that young people can vote at 16 years of age will generate interest and a greater awareness of politics at an earlier age. Political awareness at a younger age may lead to more political involvement and a greater connection between young people’s involvement in a variety of political forums such as student councils and students’ union activism.
It will also increase the engagement of young people with local politics and their local communities. Moreover, during this crucial period for the future of the European Union, we need young people to have a voice in deciding our future role in a post-Brexit EU. Since the introduction of vote at 16 in Austria, research conducted on the voting behaviour of young voters aged 16 – 18 years of age revealed the following: Young people are interested in politics. Two-thirds expressed interest in the election campaign.
“There has never been a time when young people were so impassioned and engaged in their society. Mental Heath, Disability Awareness, Repealing the 8th Amendment, and so many more issues which prompt young people to write articles, start petitions and take to the streets. It’s time to empower students and respect them to the degree that we allow them to be equal to everyone else in Ireland.”
Jane Hayes Nally, President, Irish Second-Level Students’ Union.
The turnout of the young people 16-18 years is comparable with the total national electorate. Young people of 16-18 years of age did not vote more radically than the adult population but voted in a similar way. The earlier we engage young people in democracy and politics the greater the chance that we will promote and sustain a lifelong interest and commitment to voting and participation in the democratic process. The ISSU calls on the Irish people to support lowering the voting age to 16.