We are pleased to announce that our research article ‘A coming of age: how and why the UK became the first democracy to allow votes for 18-year-olds’ has been published in the academic Journal Contemporary British History.
In the article based on the archival research we carried out on 1969 Representation of the People Act as part of our Leverhulme Trust funded research project on the UK voting age debate Tom Loughran, Andy Mycock and Jon Tonge explain how the voting age debate in the 1960s lead the UK to become the first democratic country to lower the age of enfranchisement t0 18 We argue that;
-The lowering of the voting age to 18 in 1969 was a top-down elite driven policy with little evidence of a grassroots campaign.
-That the arguments around lowering the franchise, in contrast to the contemporary debate around Votes-at-16, was linked to a broader debate around young people’s changing role within society and other appropriate age minimums,
-There is little evidence from 1969 to support the common assumption that the age of enfranchisement is only lowered if it is in the electoral interests of the governing party. On the contrary, there was a common assumption in the 1960s that ‘the youth vote’ marginally favoured the Conservatives ,and Conservative objections to ‘Votes-at-16 (both in Parliament and the press) were focused on the dangers of setting a constitutional precedent rather than any concern over an electoral ‘stitch-up’.