24/10/2013 08:19 BST | Updated 23/12/2013 05:12 GMT

Why 16-Year-Olds Should Get the Vote

One of the many policies announced by Ed Miliband at the Labour Party Conference was that he would lower the voting age to 16. Giving 16 and 17-year-old's the vote will be including them in our democracy which we pride ourselves upon in Britain. A staggering 1.5 million people are denied the right to vote in the United Kingdom and it just isn't fair.

Many people reject the idea of giving 16 and 17-year-old's the vote and usually their reasoning is on the basis of low levels of immaturity amongst this age group. However, voting is based on age and not levels of maturity as I'm sure many 16-year-olds are probably more mature than some 18-year-olds so therefore it throws that argument out of the window.

The government always seems to talk about giving young people a voice and hearing what they have to say, yet they're not allowed to vote. If we want young people to engage in their respective communities we must listen to what they need and what better way to do this other than let them choose who they are governed by?

The government is there to represent and accommodate the needs of the majority of the population. However, 1.5 million young people are being ignored. 16 and 17-year-olds are more than capable of making a calculated decision on who they want to vote for and they should have the right to choose. Politics affects everybody in some way shape or form and many people fail to realise that their vote really matters especially in "swing-seats" constituencies.

16-year-olds have many privileges in Britain that young people in other countries may not. At the age of 16 you can have children, leave school, work full-time, leave home, get married, join the armed forces and the list goes on. All of these things are controlled by the government some-way or the other, which is another reason why the voting age should be lowered to 16. One of the most important factors is that 16-year-olds pay taxes like everybody else in employment and they should have every right to decide who controls the amount of tax they pay.

Voter apathy is an ever growing problem amongst 18-24 year-olds in Britain as the voter turnout amongst this age group in 2010 was a mere 44%. By giving 16 and 17-year-olds the vote it will open a pool of 1.5 million young people who will have the right to vote. Many say the majority of 16 and 17-year-olds wouldn't vote but I disagree. Informing and educating young people in schools from an early age will encourage them to vote and give them the relative material and information to decide who they want to vote for.

If a Labour government is elected in 2015, 16-year-olds will get the vote. However, the government must be cautious in its approach. At this present moment citizenship education is of a low standard in Britain and it needs to improve. Proving good quality citizenship education must be a priority if the government wants to implement this policy with positive results.

Students should be taught about political positions and the main political parties in Britain. They should also be taught brief history about the parties and what they stand for. However, it is important teachers don't rub off their political views on students. Therefore citizenship education should be underpinned by a strong neutral national curriculum.