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Should 16-Year-Olds Be Allowed to Vote in Westminster Elections? Public Opinion and Electoral Franchise Reform

Birch, S and Clarke, HD and Whiteley, P (2015) 'Should 16-Year-Olds Be Allowed to Vote in Westminster Elections? Public Opinion and Electoral Franchise Reform.' Parliamentary Affairs, 68 (2). pp. 291-313. ISSN 0031-2290

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Britain has a long and often celebrated history of progressively expanding the electoral franchise. In recent years, the idea has been advanced to allow 16-year-olds to vote in general elections. This article uses data from a July 2013 national survey to examine public attitudes on this topic. These data show that less than one person in six favours lowering the voting age, with a large majority preferring the status quo. Younger - but not the youngest - people, men, working class and lower income persons, self-identified members of the ethnic majority and Scots tend to be most favourably disposed towards lowering the voting age. Multivariate analyses confirm these socio-demographic relationships and demonstrate that views about reducing the voting age covary in theoretically expected ways with several attitudinal variables prominent in the literature on voting, political participation and support for democratic political systems. Although statistically significant, none of the relationships of interest is especially strong. Thus, an effort to lower the age of majority would lack widespread popularity and be only weakly leveraged by the demographics of the British electorate. If franchise change occurs, it likely will be the result of an elite-driven project that succeeds because of widespread public indifference.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2015 09:07
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2022 00:52

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