Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, has lent her support to a Private Members Bill to lower the voting age to 16.

On Friday November 3, the Bill – presented to Parliament by Jim McMahon MP – will have its Second Reading and will place a requirement on Returning Officers to ensure reasonable steps are taken to register new voters and a requirement on schools to provide education on democracy and citizenship to improve our democracy.

Extra 1.5 million voters

If this country did lower the voting age from 18 to 16, an extra 1.5 million people would be able to vote, therefore giving young people the ability to influence politicians on a range of issues that affect their lives.

It is estimated that locally around 1,390 16 and 17 year olds in Washington and Sunderland West would be affected by this change if it was brought in.

The Bill to lower the voting age has cross-party support and is backed by the Votes at 16 Coalition, a campaign group made up of over 60 organisations including the British Youth Council, National Union of Students and the Electoral Reform Society.

Have their voices heard

Sharon Hodgson MP said: “Throughout my time in Parliament, I have been a supporter of votes at 16, understanding that young people are concerned about the issues that affect them and want to have their voices heard on policies that will impact their lives.

“I always enjoy meeting young people to discuss democracy and the importance of voting.

“It is time for the Government to recognise the importance of listening to the voices of young people and allow them to participate, contribute and engage in our democratic processes.

“The time has come for votes at 16 and I am glad to be supporting Jim McMahon’s Bill.”