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Politics – The Minimum Voting Age

I’m Jack


"My mission is to find the body that Mother Nature Intended, not what McNature provided"

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January 2010
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I know that politics is generally a very boring subject and today will be no exception but I would like to throw out a couple of ideas to shake up the political landscape.  I would love to get your feedback and see if there are more like minded people out there.

Firstly I would like to see the minimum age for voting increased from the current 18 years to a minimum of 25 years.  Secondly I would like to see the current political system based on the centuries old parliamentary system disbanded and replaced with a better system.  I’ll discuss each idea separately and briefly so as not to have you move onto the next web page offering much better entertainment than what I am offering here.

  1. Increase the minimum voting age to 25

I am basing this on my own experiences.  At the age of 18 I really had no idea about policies and political parties and really had very little idea how it all worked.  I was a popularity voter and when I was first able to vote in 1990 I voted for the politician who I liked the most, Bob Hawke. I knew nothing of his politics, I knew nothing about his party’s politics, I just liked the way he spoke and as he was the current Prime Minister he was the most common politician I ever saw in the media.  He was also very popular for being the Australian Prime Minister at the time when Australia II won the America’s Cup in 1983 and went on TV and told Aussie bosses they were bums if they sacked anyone for being late for work that day.  Who couldn’t love the guy for that alone.

By the time of the next election I was perhaps 20 or 21 and Paul Keating had taken over from Bob Hawke as Prime Minister in a leadership spill.  I liked Paul Keating more than I liked then opposition leader, Dr John Hewson.  I liked Keating’s arrogance and therefore I voted for him.  Again I didn’t understand, or even try to understand his or the Labor parties politics, it was purely a personality vote.

Then John Howard,the leader of the Liberal Party won the election and became Australia’s 25th Prime Minister.

I think I voted for Paul Keating that election but I really don’t remember but in 1996 at the age of 24 I still didn’t really understand politics all too well.  What happened was that John Howard then stayed in office for 11 years.  During this 11 years I got a little older and a little wiser and I started to understand politics a little better.  All of a sudden issues that were important to me like immigration and tax relief and home ownership were also hot agenda topics for the Australian government.  I liked the fact that John Howard was taking a stance against illegal boat people.  I liked the fact that he introduced first home ownership schemes.  I liked the fact that interest rates were falling to a level that would allow me to be able to afford to buy my own home which after all is the great Australian dream.  Then something peculiar happened, I started voting based on issues and not based on popularity.

My point is that I think the majority of young adults under 25 would be similar to me and not really have an understanding of policies and would be simply voting based on what mum and dad have always voted or based on personalities.  By increasing the voting age to 25 it is possible that this could alter the outcome of an election and therefore policies.  I’m not sure how much of the voting population is based on the 18 to 24 age bracket but it could be significant and enough to bring about an election result based on popularity and not just on policies.  Especially if it is likely to be a very close election, personalities could be the difference between the leaders and therefore their political parties forming government.

The only part of this I don’t like is that those 18 to 24 year olds who do understand what is going on will not have the opportunity to have their right to have a say about who their leader is.  The compromise here is that those who are under 25 are not obligated to vote and therefore it is not compulsory for them to do so.  I honestly couldn’t give a rats arse if I voted or not back in my youth and only did so because I had to.  A comment was made to me the other day that if you change the minimum voting age you also have to change the minimum drinking and gambling age and also the minimum age to serve in the Australian defence forces.  I don’t think it has to go that far.

Ok so this went a bit longer than I thought so I will continue this discussion with my second point in the next day or so.

So what do you think?  Agree?  Disagree?  How would you feel if you couldn’t vote until you were 25?  Do you have a better idea?  I would love to hear what you think?

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3 Comments

  1. troyzee says:

    I think the majority of my under 25 mates – which is actually most of my mates – would rope you up and scalp you for suggesting such a thing. I have a wide group of very political friends under 25 who have more of an idea of what’s going on and are more in touch with politics than some older people I know. There are people of all ages who don’t get politics or just don’t care for politics. To suggest younger people in general aren’t as politically aware is a bit ageist.

    If anything I think lower the voting age to 16 but don’t make it compulsory until 18. It may develop an interest in politics in younger people earlier and raise awareness of issues that some youth may not have ever thought about. And if they’d like to vote they can until they turn 18 and then have to vote. If you have a nation of youth who are more involved and aware at an earlier age I can only think that would end up being a good thing for the future.

    • jackmcclane says:

      Troy, sorry but I definitely don’t agree with 16 and 17 year olds voting. The majority and I mean the vast majority would have no idea of what is happening in Australian politics. I did mention that perhaps it shouldn’t be compulsory for 18-24 year olds to vote but they can if they wish. This means that those who do have an opinion can have their say via the voting booth. It also depends on your circle of friends. You are someone who is very intelligent and have an opinion and therefore you surround yourself with like minded people. But you honestly can’t tell me that the majority of that age group have a passable understanding of what the relevant policies are? As for being a bit ageist, I did refer this back to me when I was younger. If I had have come out and said that the voting age should be increased based on the youth of today then sure, call me an ageist but based on personal experiences when I was in that age group I think my call is fair.

  2. troyzee says:

    Well isn’t that the problem then? The age group not having a knowledge of it. Lower the voting age and teach more politics in school and give them the option of voting whilst still 16 or 17 and you might change that.

    I think sitting back and saying youth aren’t interested so let’s just leave it that way is terrible. We should be finding a way to get youth interested in politics and if lowering the voting age (without it being compulsory) and incorporating it into Year 11 and 12 curriculum then society, over time, changes and we have less and less youth who aren’t in the know in some way.

    Raising the voting ages is a terrible idea. It just promotes the complacency and “I don’t know about it so it doesn’t affect me” attitude that is beginning to plague the younger generations.

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