Gleaves, Helen (2019) Votes at 16 and Youth Political Engagement: Young People in Kirklees. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This study explores the attitudes of young people aged between fourteen and eighteen years old in Kirklees on whether the voting age should be reduced to sixteen. It involves a mixed-methods approach in which an both an online survey and individual focus groups are used to assess whether these young people would feel confident in their political knowledge to vote, whether they believe that lowering the voting age would redress the current state of youth political disengagement, and whether they think that certain rights and responsibilities that are related to voting should be lowered to sixteen.

This study revealed that slightly under half of the young people surveyed supported lowering the voting age to sixteen. Further to this, it found that a majority of young people in Kirklees believe that lowering the voting age would improve young peoples’ levels of interest in politics. However, most young people reported a lack of confidence in their level of political knowledge and felt that they needed to be taught about politics in school in order to vote competently. In terms of adult rights and responsibilities such as being able to drink or drive at sixteen, most young people wanted these legal minimum ages to remain at eighteen, and especially opposed reducing the age of candidacy to sixteen despite being supportive of lowering the voting age.

The thesis makes an important contribution to research on voting age reform by focusing on local democracy in England. This provides an original lens to understand ongoing debates about ‘Votes at 16’ across the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

Gleaves THESIS.pdf - Accepted Version
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