Poll: Should The Voting Age Be Lowered To 16? The Government...

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Poll: Should the voting age be lowered to 16?
The Government is going to hold a referendum to lower the voting age. Good idea?
Jul 10th 2013,

THE GOVERNMENT IS planning to hold a referendum on whether the voting age should be lowered from 18 to 16.
Youth groups have argued that allowing 16-year-olds to vote in local, national and European elections would give young people a greater say in decisions that affect their lives. Opponents argue that 16-year-olds are too young or may not have enough information to decide who to vote for.
The majority of countries allow people to vote at the age of 18 although a small number have already lowered the age to 16, including Brazil, Argentina, Austria and Estonia.
So today we’re asking: Should the voting age be lowered to 16?

Poll Results:

Should the voting age be lowered to 16? - Your Assembly

Presentation of the Arguments
Presented at UCD March 2015:
Constitutional Convention ... and it was amazing to hear their views on Vote at 16. ... The European Parliament has officially endorsed a voting age of 16

NYCI General Election Manifesto “Quest for the Best” “Make Ireland the best country in which to be a young person” Comhairle Náisiúnta na nÓg National Youth Council of Ireland 3 Montague Street Dublin 2
16-year-olds ‘too hormonal to vote’
Saturday, February 07, 2015
by Shaun Connolly
The voting age should not be lowered because 16-year-olds are too “hormonal” to vote in elections, a TD has warned.

Independent TD Peter Mathews, 63, branded a bid to hold a referendum on giving full voting rights to 16- and 17-year-olds “daft” after it received cross-party support.
“Children aged 16 years are having hormonal battles in their bodies, heads, minds, and hearts,” said Mr Mathews. “They do not even have the confidence to come into a room to meet new people. We must stop this nonsense.”
Mr Mathews was responding to a bill introduced by Sinn Féin’s Brian Stanley that has now gone on to committee stage as the Government did not oppose it.
Mr Stanley said people in middle age could be hormonal, but nobody was proposing to disenfranchise them.
“Let us set the hormone battles to one side and deal with the issues, as they are no reason to deny young people the right to vote,” said Mr Stanley.
Although the Government did not oppose the bill, Local Government Minister Paudie Coffey rejected Mr Stanley’s call for the referendum to be held this May along with marriage rights for same-sex couples and cutting the minimum age for presidential candidates.
Mr Coffey said the constitutional convention voted 52% to 47% in favour of reducing the voting age, but warned such a move could lead to a demand for age reduction in areas including the sale of tobacco and drink, the use of sunbeds, and access to most social welfare schemes.
Mr Stanley insisted some 100,000 16- and 17-year-olds were mature enough to take part in democracy.
“Much interest was expressed in the Scottish referendum on independence due to the fact that 16-year-olds were allowed to vote,” he said. “That was a huge success in relation to the turnout figure, and in generating interest and participation in the debate by young people.”
The convention recommended lowering the voting age to 16 but the Government parties favour 17, he said.
Convention on the Constitution- Reducing Voting Age National Youth Council of Ireland January 2013
Voting age should be lowered to 16, Constitutional Convention finds
The voting age should be cut to 16, the Convention on the Constitution has said.
In its first report, the group has called for a two-year reduction in the age at which people can take part in elections, but called for the seven-year term for a presidency to remain as it is.
Tom Arnold, chairman of the convention, said it was a landmark day for the work of the body.
“The establishment of the Constitutional Convention represented an exciting and innovative approach to constitutional reform in this country,” he said.
The convention had agreed to propose lowering the voting age by a slender majority, Mr Arnold revealed.
“The Government will now respond within four months to this recommendation,” he said.
“This initiative is a fresh approach which gives citizens a chance to make their voice heard on important constitutional matters.
“These issues are highly relevant to all Irish citizens and it is crucial that people engage in the process. I would encourage all citizens to take account of the Constitutional Convention schedule and have their say on the important matters that are yet to be discussed.”
The January meeting also decided that presidential elections should not be held alongside local or European elections.
The next meeting of the Constitutional Convention is on April 13 and 14 where the issue of whether same sex marriage should be supported will be discussed and voted on.
The convention’s report has been laid in the library of the Houses of the Oireachtas today meaning the Government will have four months to respond to the call for reform.
The first step will be a debate in the Oireachtas and, if the Government agrees to the proposal to amend the Constitution, it must also detail a timeline for a referendum.

Nine Good Reasons for Extending Voting Rights to 16 and 17 year olds
1. Generate Greater Interest
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.
Ensuring that political interest is cultivated at an earlier age can only be a positive step. Such civic, social and political engagement is an integral part of an individual’s personal and social development. Like participation in extra-curricular activities outside the classroom such as youth organisations, sport or debating, the right to vote at 16 years of age will serve to empower younger people with the right to influence decisions that will affect their lives.
Since the introduction of vote at 16 in Scotland, youth interest in democracy and politics has increased. In a presentation to an NYCI seminar in 2016, a representative from the Scottish Youth Parliament stated that more young people are involved in political discussions, more engaged locally and more going on to study politics at third level. Overall, the impact has been very positive. In Austria, research conducted on 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. 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.

2. Promote Political Participation
Reducing the age of voter eligibility to 16 will serve as a kick-start in the promotion of politics to young people and young people’s participation, awareness and cognisance of political issues affecting them.
It is true that young people learn about democracy and active citizenship in school and in youth groups, however like learning to drive, the best way to learn is to actually put the theory into practice and get behind the wheel. Likewise giving young people the vote at 16 allows them to practice what they learn. Voter participation needs to be encouraged and supported. Lowering the voter age will serve to foster a greater political consciousness amongst young people.
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.
At the moment there is a big problem with the voting registration system. In a survey we carried out in 2014, up to 30% of young people aged 18-25 were not registered to vote. This is partly due to the fact that at 18 the vast majority of young people are moving away from home to college, training or work and they fall through the administrative cracks. The vast majority of young people aged 16 are in school or training, so it would be very easy for local authorities to put young people on the register.

3. Why Not?
If a 16 year old can leave school, seek full-time employment, be liable for tax and obtain a licence to drive a tractor, why then can they not be entrusted with the civic responsibility of voting? The youth sections of the main political parties allow young people to join at either 15 or 16, therefore the political parties themselves recognise the capacity and importance of engaging young people as early as possible.
4. Mature Enough!
NYCI reject the argument that an electorate under the age of 18 years of age would not be mature enough to make informed decisions on voting. The current age of majority in the Republic of Ireland is 18 years of age. At 18 years of age, an individual can run for Local Government, marry, serve on jury duty and vote in local, general and European elections. However, there is not a considerable difference between an 18 year old and a 16 year old in terms of mental capacity for thought and development. An individual at 16 years of age is mature enough to inform themselves on issues affecting their lives and engage in the political system through the electoral system.
5. Widening Participation
While Ireland like the rest of Europe has a growing older population, we are also unique in that we have a growing youth population; indeed according to the CSO1 we have the highest proportion of young people in the EU. Extending voting rights for the 2019 local and European elections would allow an additional 126,000 young people aged 16 and 17 a say on who represents them and all in the community at local and European level. Over many centuries our electoral system has evolved and been reformed to increase and widen participation, the extension of voting rights to more young people is just a continuation of that process.
6 Young people are informed
Unlike previous generations, young people are much more informed, they for example undertake courses at school such as the Civil, Social and Political Education course. Unlike previous generations who may only have had access to local and national media, young people today have access to the web where they can get information and engage in discussions on a wide range of issues and politics.
We welcome the decision of Government to introduce a new subject “Politics and Society” at Senior Cycle level, which commenced in September 2016. It is important that young people are taught about democracy and participation through subjects like these. However the introduction of the right to vote alongside the introduction of this subject would excite and incentivise young people not only to learn about participation in the electoral system but also give them the right to experience it through voting.
8. Why 16 rather than 17?
When the Constitutional Convention was asked in 2013 to consider changing the voting age to 17, they agreed with the submission and presentation of NYCI that it was preferable to extend the right to vote to 16 and 17 year olds. They agreed with our view that 16 is the age that young people gain many rights and responsibilities in society (for example, they can leave school, seek full-time employment and pay taxes). Moreover, at the age of 16 the majority of young people are in school, studying subjects such as Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE). We contend that the age of 16 is an optimum time to introduce young people to the electoral system.
9. Consistency with our European Counterparts…
There is a global and European momentum towards extending the right to vote to young people at 16 and 17 years old. In the Scottish referendum in 2014 the right to vote was extended to 16 and 17 year olds with 75% of this age cohort voting. Given this success, the Scottish Government have decided to allow young people aged 16 and 17 to vote in the Scottish Parliamentary elections.
Austria has also lowered the voting age for all elections to 16. Seven of the 16 states in Germany have lowered the voting age and a region in Switzerland has introduced it. In Austria and Germany the voter turnout of young people aged 16 and 17 was equal to that of older age groups. Other countries such as the UK and Denmark are also considering such a move.
Vote at 16 has been introduced in the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey.
In November 2015, the European Parliament voted in favour of a report which recommended extending voting rights to young people aged 16 and 17 in the European elections, which are next being held in 2019.

Voting age should be lowered to 16, Constitutional Convention finds 1st report

Poll: Should we lower the voting age in Ireland?
The Taoiseach has said there will be a referendum on it next year – do you think it’s a good idea?
Nov 25th 2014

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland
WE ARE NOW almost two years on from the Constitutional Convention recommendation that Ireland lowers its voting age to 17.
The Convention even went further with 48% saying it should be lowered to 16. The Taoiseach has promised there will be a referendum on the issue next year, so we want to know how you’d vote.
Should we lower the voting age in Ireland?

Poll Results:

Secondary Schools’ Parliamentary Convention “Should Australia abolish compulsory voting and should the voting age be lowered to 16?” Tuesday 12 September 2017

Age of Presidential candidacy should not be lowered to 21
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
WE HAVE two constitutional referenda to decide on May 22 and I’ll be voting yes and no says Gerard Howlin

Yes to marriage equality, but no to lowering the eligible age for candidates in presidential elections from 35 to 21.
Marriage equality is a topic I hope to return to another day, but on the day that’s in it, the eligible age for presidential candidates is pressing.
It’s not that it is a subject of chat among people I speak to, except for the occasional disparaging remark. But it is the subject of debate in the Dáil today.
Legislation enabling the referendum is this week’s business and is scheduled to conclude tomorrow.
Then the Bill will be sent to the Seanad. Assuming it is passed, which I do, the president will sign it into law and we the people will vote seven weeks from next Friday.
Having admitted I don’t hear much chat on the topic, let me declare a bias. I recently had significant birthday.

Having been on the provisional licence for years, the L plates are off; there is now officially a grumpy old git on board. Still a bit off the bus pass — but the disco days are over.
There was never a time when age didn’t complain about youth. It’s awful auld dross.
Come to think of it, I don’t have any complaints about the youth of today; except I no longer qualify. They are largely smarter, better educated, and more self-assured.
The world won’t fall in if a 21-year-old is elected president. In some respects it might be a better place. It is worth remembering that of the seven signatories of the 1916 Proclamation Joseph Plunkett at 28 and Seán MacDiarmada who was 33 would have been ineligible to be Uachtarán na hÉireann.
Éamonn Ceannt would just have made it at 35. Padraig Pearse at 36 was only over the line.
The senior surviving commandant Eamon De Valera, wouldn’t have qualified either. He was only 34. Though he did go on to become the oldest elected head of state in the world. He eventually retired as president in 1973 at the age of 90.
The constitution of the Weimar republic influenced the framing of the Irish presidency in Bunreacht na hÉireann.

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The mandatory age of 35 and the choice of a seven-year term were both copied from there.
When the Irish constitution was being written, the German presidency was already abolished.
Within hours of President Von Hindenburg’s death on August 9, 1934, the Reichstag passed a law stating: “The office of Reich President will be combined with that of Reich Chancellor.
The existing authority of the Reich President will consequently be transferred to the Führer and Reich Chancellor, Adolf Hitler. He will select his deputy”.
In a sense the Irish presidency inaugurated by 78-year-old Douglas Hyde in 1938, was the vicarious embodiment of the democratic vision hoped for but unachieved or short-lived elsewhere after World War I.
Our presidency has survived intact, and in a country not shy about scarifying its own shortcomings, we have democratic institutions — the presidency included — that endured. Ireland now enjoys the longest period of continuity of any European country, under a written constitution.
We the people are rightly wary of changing it, without good reason.
This proposed change, a gross waste of public money in my opinion, came out of the mess that was the constitutional convention. Full of well-intended people, institutionally it was strikingly lacking in political nous and played its predetermined role of patsy to perfection.
It inadvertently allowed itself be a sandbag holding back political reform, instead of a vehicle driving it forward.
The fact that the constitutional convention met at weekends and mainly in a seaside resort, is incidental but also a metaphor for its pointlessness.
It was a constitutional caravan-park for earnest, ineffectual anoraks.
The convention refused to butt into the government’s planned referendum on Seanad abolition. For a constitutional convention worthy of the name to sit on the side-lines while an entire House of the Oireachtas was nearly abolished, beggars belief.
That referendum and the failed proposal to enhance the powers of Oireachtas enquiries were advanced without reference to it.
This should have been a warning; a sign to quit rather than be window dressing. Arguably its greatest failure was the one centrally important issue it did address; reforming our electoral system.
I respect the bona fides of the majority who voted to leave the current broken system intact.
But it was a wrong call. The convention can claim credit for several worthwhile suggestions on Dáil reform and it supported a same-sex marriage referendum. But in the real political world, the latter was coming down the tracks regardless.
Instead of leading reform, major issues that were either avoided by the convention, or decided without reference to it.
Their proposal to reduce the voting age to 16 is not being proceeded with. But obliged to offer something, anything, by way of a referendum proposal we are being allowed to decide if the age of presidential candidates can be reduced to 21.
It is the very least that can be done, without openly admitting that random members of the public put onto a constitutional convention, with assorted Oireachtas members was a purposeful distraction from the get-go.
It never had any public traction, and unsurprisingly it has had almost no political pull either.
Ireland has been well served by its presidents. Justifiably praised — Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese were agents of change and rapprochement on this island.
At the beginning Douglas Hyde was a conciliatory figure in a country still divided by civil war.
De Valera gave global stature to an Ireland still finding its place in the world. He was also a point of stability during the upheaval of the 1969-70 period, cumulating in the arms trial. Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh and Patrick Hillery — both understated men — staunchly upheld the prerogatives of the office.
The stabilising, constitutional purpose of the office has been realised; thence its importance for change as well as continuity.

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THE problem with lowering the age of presidential candidates isn’t that echoing 1934 we will have neo-Nazis in the Áras; boy bands may be closer to it.
No, the more likely problem is overly earnest young politico’s or academics bursting with piousness but lacking the guile or fortitude to exercise the magisterial restraint required for the office of president.
Few great endeavours and certainly no revolutionary ones would succeed without the vigour of youth.
Constitutionally the president’s function is to curb the over-enthusiasm of others when required; and safeguard our basic rights under the constitution.
It is entirely appropriate that at 35, they are past the first full flush of youth. The gormlessness of the proposal is itself an advertisement for constitutional restraint, but not alas for the constitutional convention.
Instead this unasked for referendum underlines the extent to which it was a missed opportunity for reform.
This proposed change came out of the mess that was the constitutional convention.
Should the age of candidacy for the presidential election be lowered from 35 to 21?
(213 Votes)
(136 Votes)


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First Report of the Convention on the Constitution (i) Reducing the voting age to 17; and (ii) Reducing the Presidential term of office to five years and aligning it with the local and European elections.

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