Evaluation of the Historical and Contemporary Debates on Lowering the Voting Age in the UK

About the Project

This project runs from May 2018 for two years and analyses the debates that took place when the UK became the first state in the world to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 in 1969, and how those debates have been replicated in the contemporary arguments over whether the age of enfranchisement should be lowered from 18 to 16. The project covers the growing party politics over the issue (only the Conservatives and DUP of the Westminster parties do not support lowering the voting age) and analyses opinion among 16-17 year olds and the adult electorate.

Demands to reduce the voting age for all elections in the UK have become part of political debate in the UK over the past decade. The research project will analyse historical and contemporary debates concerning voting age reform, youth democratic participation, and attendant rights and responsibility of youth and adult citizenship. The international context to the debate will be considered via comparative analysis of the impact upon youth political engagement in the (few) countries where votes-at-16 are allowed.

Project Team

Principal Investigator: Professor Jon Tonge

Co-Investigator: Dr Andrew Mycock (University of Huddersfield)


The project has received funding of £119,740 from the Leverhulme Trust.

The research grant builds on previous evidence-based research undertaken by Professor Tonge and Dr Mycock. Both were part of the Youth Citizenship Commission, an independent body established by the UK Government in 2008-9 to encourage more young people to engage with and participate in democratic politics.