Motion to Cornwall Council for lowering the voting age to 16

Even before I became Portfolio Holder for Young People, I believed the voting age of 18 needed to be reviewed and indeed lowered.

I say this because nearly 28 years ago I joined the Armed Forces at a little over 17 years old. I found it rather ironic that I could be sent to war (17 and a half) and could not vote, or have a say in who might send me to the next bun fight in some far off land.

In the eyes of the law, I was old enough to fight and die for my Country, but not to vote…

In recent years there has been a groundswell for the voting age to be at least reviewed. The independence vote in Scotland reaffirmed the need for change when a temporary extension of the franchise in Scotland allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote in the referendum.

The truth is there are over 1.5 million 16 and 17 year olds in the UK who are denied the vote.

I made this statement last year:

In the 2010 elections, over 75% of people aged 65+ voted. This group received free bus travel, free TV license, free prescriptions, winter fuel allowance to name but a few. Compare this to only 44% of young people voted. They had EMA taken away, tuition frees tripled and youth services are under huge pressures and reductions. Is this related? Yes, it is. If young people were more engaged and had the ability to vote, then maybe the services young people value would be on a more even footing.

Why hasn’t anything changed? Well in 2003 The Electoral Commission conducted a review of the voting age with a period of public consultation over the summer of 2003. The review reflected growing calls from a wide range of organisations to consider lowering the voting age in order to promote participation in democracy and to address the issue of disengagement particularly amongst the young.

The Commission published its findings in April 2004. Although most responses to its consultation paper supported a voting age of 16, more general opinion polling had suggested strong support for keeping to the present minimum. The Commission therefore recommended that:

“The minimum age for all levels of voting in public elections in the UK should remain at 18 years for the time being.”


With a new government, and Cornwall having the ear of the government in the Case for Cornwall, I have submitted a motion to lobby Government to lower the voting age to at least 16 in time for the next unitary elections.

In the words of the motion I say,

“The voice of 16 and 17 year olds is important and where we have a set Parliament of five years there is risk of disenfranchising young people, as those aged 16 and 17 would not have the democratic right until 21/22. – after many would have left University.”


“Cornwall Council should lobby the Government to lower the voting age to at least 16 in time for the Cornwall Council Unitary Elections in 2017, or at least Cornwall to be a pilot authority.”

This has a financial and governance implication therefore:

· I would like this motion to be referred to the Young People’s PAC for this to be discussed and for recommendations to be worked up.
· In the discussion at PAC, I would like the MYP’s to be invited to be part of the process.

The input of the MYP’s is important as the 6 MYP’s in Cornwall are campaigning along with their colleagues around the County for the law to be changed as part of the UK Youth Parliament and its manifesto.

furthermore, most of the major political parties in the UK have in one-way-or-another committed to lowering the voting age and therefore, in the motion to Council I wanted to make it apolitical.

I am pleased to say, the Lib Dems, Labour MK and Tory have supported this (as have the Green Party Member – but already had the required supporters) motion.

However, the real work in building up a case will be carried out by the Young People’s PAC.

The vote on whether this motion is referred to the PAC (or not) takes place on Tuesday 21st July.

We need to enfranchise our young people and giving them the vote is one way of doing it.


  • Steve

    Of course you being portfolio holder and working amongst the younger generation would probably gain you votes at the next council election, that wouldn’t sway your opinion now would it.
    And you as a former member of the services, I take it you meant fight for your country not just county.

  • Pingback: My Cornwall Council ‘votes at 16 motion’ is referred to the Young People Committee (PAC) | Cllr Andrew Wallis

  • Gill Zella Martin

    I think it would be a good idea to lower the voting age as many young people would probably be less apathetic than some older people, and they would more likely use their vote.
    No doubt Andrew would gain more votes, however, he has already been re-elected up to now without the lowering of the voting age, simply because people recognise that he is a very good and effective councillor.

  • Steve

    So Gill, if you think Andy is such a good Cllr would you still vote for him if you could if he was not independent but joined a political party before the next election? as I’ve read in the past you’re not politically minded. I’m presuming you voted for your local Cllr because she’s independent. If the lowering of voting age doesn’t come about drastic action might take place at the next election, who knows.

  • Gill Zella Martin

    Steve, if I was in a position to vote for Andrew I would do so regardless of whatever political party or none that he did or did not adhere to, simply because he has over the years proved time and time again to be an effective and hardworking councillor that gets results.
    I do not adhere to any political party and would prefer to vote for an Independent but yes, I did vote for my current local councillor who is a actually a Conservative, I voted for her purely because I like her. I cannot comment on what she does as a councillor as I have no idea as I do not ask her.
    None of this however is relevant to lowering the voting age which I am in favour of. It seems strange that young people under 18 can marry, drive and purchase a lottery ticket but cannot vote for a government and yet it is the government that pass the laws on driving ages etc.

  • Steve

    Now Andy wouldn’t be trying to censor comments would he!!!!,

  • Steve

    Gill, your local Cllr is independent it said so on her election leaflets and on the CC website.

  • Steve

    Looks like comments are censored to the commenters computers only!!!!!! So no one else can read them!!!!

  • Gill Zella Martin

    Steve, Cornwall Council website obviously is not run by ‘Ronseal’ then! (the website does ‘not’ do what it says on the tin) because my local Cornwall Councillor is a Conservative. Amongst many other things, I am also assuming that paid up members of the Conservative party are Conservatives.

    I do not understand your second comment, I do not have a computer, only a phone. I cannot have a computer I do not have a landline due to cost.

  • Andrew Wallis

    No Steve, everyone of your comments has been published. All comments have to be approved first.

  • Steve

    Well in that case then Gill I wonder what stance she’ll take in the next election now the Tories are in popularity, I might stand against Andy in the next election.

  • Andrew Wallis

    In case any doubt, I will stand as an Independent as I have always stood. As for anyone standing against me, that called an election.

  • Andrew Wallis

    Just a gentle reminder to all, please can you get comments on the blog topic votes at 16. Thanks!

  • Steve

    I’ve never met Gill so don’t really know who she is but I know who you are Andy and my comments are on topic, this voting at 16 lark is about you getting votes at the next election because you never bothered about it until you became cabinet member and portfolio holder for children and young people so think how many votes you’d get at the next election from all the young people you’ve helped. That’s why you want the voting age lowered. And since she did you stay on topic at the webcast meetings.

  • Steve

    Here’s another one on topic for you Andy, perhaps you’d like to lower the age to 16 for people to become cllrs that’ll be you outvoted then for the position.

  • Steve

    Ooooh, selective screening, you’ve not posted my comment saying you don’t keep on topic when at the webcast meetings. I don’t know who Gill is because I’ve never met her but I know who you are Andy and unlike her comments on here I don’t support what you say, I take it that’s why you didn’t post my other comment. Well it looks like you’ve frightened her off from saying anything more, shame as she seems to talk sense. It was all on topic because lowering the voting age is so you get more votes at the next election I dare say, else why would you want it rushed through before the next council election? All aspects of the election are on topic, unless you think only in straight lines and want to steer peoples thinking away from a connection between lowering the voting age and you getting elected. You’re just not being fair Andy on this one about being on topic, and of course it wouldn’t be like you to admit you’re wrong at all.

  • Andrew Wallis

    As I said before, all your comments, steve have been posted. Though I do not wait by the computer just in case you comment and can approve it straight away.

    As for lowering the voting age, it has nothing to so with getting elected or re-elected. It is about empowering young people. Furthermore, if the voting age was lowered to 16, then they could stand for office too. either for Cornwall Council and / or parish and town councils. Again, I have no problem with that, even if it is against me.

  • Steve

    Don’t admit you made a mistake Andy that would never do, I posted 2 comments at same time and you only posted one of them initially. Why should we be represented by non tax paying non drinking alcohol 16 year old children, how would they get to county hall by bus!!! What a bizzare idea.

  • Steve

    They’d have no life experience the government want them in education until they’re 18. We’d be run by a bunch of children that still vandalise things and have no experience of handling a corporate budget.

  • Steve

    Needn’t have bothered with the top park play equipment need you and inconvenienced residents that pay council tax, could have just had all the 16 year olds playing Cllr while they pay no tax.

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