Voting age

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A voting age is a minimum age established by law that a person must attain before they become eligible to vote in a public election. As of the present day, the most common voting age is 18 years; however, voting ages as low as 16 and as high as 25 currently exist (see list below). Most countries have set a minimum voting age, often set in their constitution. In a number of countries voting is compulsory for those eligible to vote, while in most it is optional.

Contents

When the right to vote was being established in democracies, the voting age was generally set at 21 or higher. In the 1970s many countries reduced the voting age to 18. The debate is ongoing in a number of countries on proposals to reduce the voting age to or below 18. In Brazil, for example, the minimum age lowered from 18 to 16 years old in the 1988 constitution.

History

In 1890, Law No. 5, 1890, of the South African Republic set a voting age there of 16 years. [1]

Prior to the Second World War of 1939–1945, the voting age in almost all countries was 21 years or higher. In 1946 Czechoslovakia became the first state to reduce the voting age to 20 years, and by 1968 a total of 17 countries had lowered their voting age. [2] Many countries, particularly in Western Europe, reduced their voting ages to 18 years during the 1960s and 1970s, starting with the United Kingdom (1969), [3] with the United States (26th Amendment) (1971), Canada, West Germany (1972), Australia (1974), France (1974), and others following soon afterwards. By the end of the 20th century, 18 had become by far the most common voting age. However, a few countries maintain a voting age of 20 years or higher, and a few countries have a lower voting age of 16 or 17. [4] It was argued that if young men could be drafted to go to war at 18, they should be able to vote at the age of 18. [5]

In the late 20th and early 21st centuries voting ages were lowered to 18 in India, Switzerland, Austria, and Morocco. Japan lowered its voting age from 20 to 18 in June 2016. [6] As of 2007 a dispute continued in the Maldives. [7] [8]

Debate on lowering the voting age to 16

Demonstration in favor of lowering the voting age by members of NYRA Berkeley, California (2004) NYRA Berkeley voting age protest.jpg
Demonstration in favor of lowering the voting age by members of NYRA Berkeley, California (2004)

Around 2000, a number of countries began to consider whether the voting age ought to be reduced further, with arguments most often being made in favour of a reduction to 16. The earliest moves came during the 1990s, when the voting age for municipal elections in some States of Germany was lowered to 16. Lower Saxony was the first state to make such a reduction, in 1995, and four other states did likewise. [9]

In 2007, Austria became the first country to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in national elections, with the expanded franchise first being consummated in the 2009 European Parliament election. A study of young voters' behaviour on that occasion showed them to be as capable as older voters to articulate their beliefs and to make voting decisions appropriate for their preferences. Their knowledge of the political process was only insignificantly lower than in older cohorts, while trust in democracy and willingness to participate in the process were markedly higher. [10]

During the 2000s several proposals for a reduced voting age were put forward in U.S. states, including California, Florida and Alaska, [11] but none were successful. In Oregon, Senate Joint Resolution 22 has been introduced to reduce the voting age from 18 to 16. Also in British Columbia, Canada in August 2018, a group of 20 youth partnered with Dogwood BC to launch a Vote16 campaign of their own. Currently, they have unanimous support from the UBCM (Union of BC Municipalities), as well as endorsements from BC Green and NDP representatives. The campaign is now waiting for it to be brought up in the legislative assembly by the NDP and for it to pass there. vote16bc.ca [12] A national reduction was proposed in 2005 in Canada [13] and in the Australian state of New South Wales, [14] but these proposals were not adopted. In May 2009, Danish Member of Parliament Mogens Jensen presented an initiative to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg to lower the voting age in Europe to 16. [15]

Demands to reduce the voting age to 16 years were again brought forward by activists of the school strike for climate movement in several countries (including Germany and the UK). [16] [17]

Australia

On 21 October 2019, Greens MP Bandt introduced a bill in the House of Representatives to lower the voting age to 16. [18]

A report suggesting that consideration be given to reducing the voting age to 16 in the Australian Capital Territory in Canberra, Australia was tabled in the territorial legislature on 26 September 2007 and defeated. [19]

In 2015, federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said that the voting age should be lowered to 16. [20]

Austria

In 2007, Austria became the first member of the European Union to adopt a voting age of 16 for most purposes. [21] [22] The voting age had been reduced in Austria from 19 to 18 at all levels in 1992. At that time a voting age of 16 was proposed by the Green Party, but was not adopted. [23]

The voting age for municipal elections in some states was lowered to 16 shortly after 2000. [9] Three states had made the reduction by 2003 (Burgenland, Carinthia and Styria), [9] and in May 2003 Vienna became the fourth. [24] Salzburg followed suit, [25] [26] and so by the start of 2005 the total had reached at least five states out of nine. [27] As a consequence of state law, reduction of the municipal voting age in the states of Burgenland, Salzburg and Vienna resulted in the reduction of the regional voting age in those states as well. [26]

After the 2006 election, the winning SPÖ-ÖVP coalition announced on 12 January 2007 that one of its policies would be the reduction of the voting age to 16 for elections in all states and at all levels in Austria. [28] The policy was set in motion by a Government announcement on 14 March, [29] and a bill proposing an amendment to the Constitution was presented to the legislature on 2 May. [30] [31] On 5 June the National Council approved the proposal following a recommendation from its Constitution Committee. [21] [23] [32] During the passage of the bill through the chamber relatively little opposition was raised to the reduction, with four out of five parties explicitly supporting it; indeed, there was some dispute over which party had been the first to suggest the idea. Greater controversy surrounded the other provisions of the bill concerning the Briefwahl, or postal vote, and the extension of the legislative period for the National Council from four to five years. [23] A further uncontroversial inclusion was a reduction in the candidacy age from 19 to 18. The Federal Council approved the Bill on 21 June, with no party voting against it. [33] The voting age was reduced when the Bill's provisions came into force on 1 July 2007. [34] Austria thus became the first member of the European Union, and the first of the developed world democracies, to adopt a voting age of 16 for all purposes. [21] Lowering the voting age encouraged political interest in young people in Austria. More sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds voted than eighteen-to-twenty-one-year-olds in Austria.

Brazil

Brazil lowered the voting age from 18 to 16 in the 1988 constitution. The presidential election of 1989 was the first with the lower voting age. People between the ages 18 and 70 are required to vote. The person must be 16 full years old on or before 31 May of that election year (In years without election, the person must be 16 full years old on or before 31 December). If their date of birth is 1 June or after, it occurs in the year they turn 17 years old. If they turn 18 years old after the election, the vote isn’t compulsory. When they turn 18 years old before the election, the vote is compulsory. When they turn 16 years old on 1 June or after, they mustn’t vote.

Iceland

The first proposal to lower the voting age to 16 years was submitted in parliament in 2007. A bill to lower the voting age for municipal elections reached the final reading in 2018, but was filibustered by opponents until the close of the parliamentary session. [35]

Iran

Iran had been unique in awarding suffrage at 15, but raised the age to 18 in January 2007 despite the opposition of the Government. [36] In May 2007 the Iranian Cabinet proposed a bill to reverse the increase. [37] [38]

Luxembourg

Luxembourg has compulsory voting from the age of 18. A proposal by the government to introduce optional voting for those aged 16 and 17 was rejected by 81% of voters in a June 2015 referendum.

Malta

On 20 November 2013, Malta lowered the voting age from 18 to 16 for local elections starting from 2015. The proposal had wide support from both the government and opposition, social scientists and youth organizations.

On Monday 29 January 2018, the Maltese Parliament debated to lower the voting age to 16 for general elections, European Parliament Elections and referenda.

On Monday, 5 March 2018, the Maltese Parliament unanimously voted in favour of amending the constitution, lowering the official voting age from 18 to 16, making Malta the second state in the EU to lower its voting age to 16. [39]

New Zealand

The New Zealand Green Party MP Sue Bradford announced on 21 June 2007 that she intended to introduce her Civics Education and Voting Age Bill on the next occasion upon which a place became available for the consideration of Members' Bills. [40] When this happened on 25 July Bradford abandoned the idea, citing an adverse public reaction. [41] The Bill would have sought to reduce the voting age to 16 in New Zealand and make civics education part of the compulsory curriculum in schools.

United Kingdom

The Representation of the People Act 1969 lowered the voting age from 21 to 18, with effect from 1970 and remained in force until the Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013 which allowed 16-year-olds to vote for the first time, but only in Scotland and only in that particular referendum. The Scottish Parliament reduced the voting age to 16 for its own and Scottish local elections in 2015. [42]

Men in military service who turned 19 during the first world war were entitled to vote in 1918 irrespective of their age as part of the Representation of the People Act 1918 which also allowed some women over the age of 30 to vote. The Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act 1928 [43] brought the voting age for women down to 21.

The reduction of the voting age to 16 in the United Kingdom was first given serious consideration on 15 December 1999, when the House of Commons considered in Committee an amendment proposed by Simon Hughes to the Representation of the People Bill. [44] This was the first time the reduction of a voting age below 18 had ever been put to a vote in the Commons. [45] The Government opposed the amendment, and it was defeated by 434 votes to 36. [45]

The Votes at 16 coalition, a group of political and charitable organisations supporting a reduction of the voting age to 16, was launched on 29 January 2003. [46] At that time a Private Member's Bill was also proposed in the House of Lords by Lord Lucas, and received a Second Reading on 9 January. [47]

In 2004, the UK Electoral Commission conducted a major consultation on the subject of the voting and candidacy ages, and received a significant response. In its conclusions it recommended that the voting age remain at 18. [48] On 29 November 2005 the House of Commons voted 136-128 (on a free vote) against a Private Member's Bill for a reduction in the voting age to 16 proposed by Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams. Parliament chose not to include a provision reducing the voting age in the Electoral Administration Act during its passage in 2006.

On 27 February 2006, the report of the Power Inquiry called for a reduction of the voting age, and of the candidacy age for the House of Commons, to 16. [49] On the same day the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, indicated in an article in The Guardian that he favoured a reduction provided it was made concurrently with effective citizenship education. [50]

The UK Ministry of Justice published on 3 July 2007 a Green Paper entitled The Governance of Britain, in which it proposed the establishment of a "Youth Citizenship Commission". [51] The Commission would examine the case for lowering the voting age. On launching the Paper in the House of Commons, PM Gordon Brown said: "Although the voting age has been 18 since 1969, it is right, as part of that debate, to examine, and hear from young people themselves, whether lowering that age would increase participation." [52]

During the Youth Parliament debates of 30 October 2009 in the House of Commons, Votes at 16 was debated and young people of that age group voted for it overwhelmingly as a campaign priority. In April 2015, Labour announced that it would support the policy if it won an overall majority in the 2015 general election, [53] which it failed to do.

There was some criticism about not reducing the voting age to 16 years for the referendum on the membership in the European Union in 2016. [54] [55]

YouGov poll research from 2018 shows that whilst the public are still opposed, there is growing support for extending the franchise. As of May 2019, all the main parties, with the exception of the Conservatives, back reducing the age to 16. Some have argued the Conservatives are hypocritical not to support this, as they allow 16-year-olds to vote in their leadership elections. It is also argued that all the main parties' approach is self-serving as younger voters are thought more likely to support left leaning parties and remaining in the EU, and less likely to support right leaning parties, and leaving the EU. [56]

Scotland

The Scottish National Party conference voted unanimously on 27 October 2007 for a policy of reducing the voting age to 16 (the age of majority in Scotland), as well as in favour of a campaign for the necessary power to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. [57]

In September 2011, it was announced that the voting age was likely to be reduced from 18 to 16 for the Scottish independence referendum. [58] This was approved by the Scottish Parliament in June 2013. [59]

In June 2015, the Scottish Parliament voted unanimously to reduce the voting age to 16 for elections for the Scottish Parliament and for Scottish local government elections. [42]

Wales

Major reforms were recommended in November 2017 in the 'A Parliament That Works For Wales' report, by the expert panel on Assembly Electoral Reform led by Professor Laura McAllister. It included increasing the size of the Assembly, adapting/ changing the electoral system and of course reducing the age of voting to 16. [60]

The Welsh Assembly's Commission, the corporate body, introduced on 12 February 2019 a bill to reduce the voting age to 16 and change the name to Senedd. [61]

The National Assembly for Wales passed the Senedd and Election (Wales) Act on 27 November 2019. [62] A vote to remove this enfranchisement was defeated by 41 to 11 votes.

The first election to include the biggest enfranchisement in Welsh Politics since 1969 will be the 2021 Senedd election. [63]

The Welsh Government also legislated for the enfranchisement of 16 and 17-year-olds in the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act, which received royal assent on 20 January 2021. The changes will be in place by May 2022 for local Welsh elections. [64] [65] [66]

Crown dependencies

Moves to lower the voting age to 16 were successful in each of the three British Crown dependencies from 2006 to 2008. The Isle of Man was the first to amend its law, when on 12 July 2006 it reduced the voting age to 16 for its general elections, with the House of Keys approving the move by 19 votes to 4. [67]

Jersey followed suit on 4 July 2007, when it approved in principle a reduction of the voting age to 16. The States of Jersey voted narrowly in favour, by 25 votes to 21, [68] and the legislative amendments were adopted on 26 September. [69] The law was sanctioned by Order in Council on 12 December, [70] [71] and was brought into force on 1 April, in time for the general elections in late 2008. [72] [73]

On 31 October 2007, a proposal [74] [75] for a reduction made by the House Committee of the States of Guernsey, and approved by the States' Policy Committee, was adopted by the assembly by 30 votes to 15. [75] [76] An Order in Council sanctioning the law was made on 12 December, [70] and it was registered at the Court of Guernsey on 19 December. It came into force immediately, and the voting age was accordingly reduced in time for the 2008 Guernsey general election. [77]

Alderney and Sark, each part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, have autonomy in deciding the question. Both have yet to favour a reduction to 16.

United States

Blue indicates a state that allows 17-year-olds who will turn 18 on or before election day to vote in caucuses or primaries. Pink indicates states that allow 17-year-olds to participate in presidential caucuses, but may not vote in primary elections for other offices. Voting Rights for 17-year-olds in US States.svg
Blue indicates a state that allows 17-year-olds who will turn 18 on or before election day to vote in caucuses or primaries. Pink indicates states that allow 17-year-olds to participate in presidential caucuses, but may not vote in primary elections for other offices.

In the United States, the debate about lowering voting age from 21 to 18 began during World War II and intensified during the Vietnam War, when most of those subjected to the draft were too young to vote, and the image of young men being forced to risk their lives in the military without the privileges of voting successfully pressured legislators to lower the voting age nationally and in many states. By 1968, several states had lowered the voting age below 21 years: Alaska and Hawaii's minimum age was 20, [78] while Georgia [78] and Kentucky's was 18. [79] In 1970, the Supreme Court in Oregon v. Mitchell ruled that Congress had the right to regulate the minimum voting age in federal elections; however, it decided it could not regulate it at local and state level.

The 26th Amendment (passed and ratified in 1971) [80] prevents states from setting a voting age higher than 18. [81] Except for the express limitations provided for in Amendments XIV, XV, XIX and XXVI, voter qualifications for House and Senate elections are largely delegated to the States under Article I, Section 2 and Amendment XVII of the United States Constitution, which respectively state that "The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature." and "The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures." [82]

17 states permit 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections and caucuses if they will be 18 by election day: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, [83] North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia, Vermont, and West Virginia. Iowa, Minnesota, and Nevada allow 17-year-olds to participate in all presidential caucuses, but may not vote in primary elections for other offices. Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Washington, and Wyoming allow 17-year-olds to participate in only Democratic caucuses, but not in the Republican caucus. [84] However, the majority age in Alabama and Nebraska is 19, and that of Mississippi is 21, thus 18-year-old Alabamians and Nebraskans, and 18 to 20-year-old Mississippians are minors according to respective state laws; [85] [86] [87] they are the only underage people eligible to register or vote in their states.

Currently, the Maine Green Independent Party, the state branch of the Green Party of the United States, calls for the lowering of the voting age to 17. [88] Youth suffrage appears to be gaining ground in Massachusetts; three of the four Democratic United States Senate candidates in 2010 supported lowering the voting age. [89]

In 2013, the City of Takoma Park, Maryland became the first place in the United States to lower its voting age to 16, for local elections and referendums. [90] [91] As of 2018, three additional cities have lowered the voting age to 16: Hyattsville and Greenbelt in Maryland and Berkeley in California (for school board elections only). [92] In 2018, a bill in the Council of the District of Columbia was proposed to lower the voting age to 16, which would make the federal district the first jurisdiction to lower the voting age for federal level elections. [93]

On 3 April 2019, Andrew Yang became the first major presidential candidate to advocate for the United States to lower its voting age to 16. [94] At 16, Americans do not have hourly limits imposed on their work, and they pay taxes. According to Yang, their livelihoods are directly impacted by legislation, and they should therefore be allowed to vote for their representatives. [95]

Venezuela

A request to lower the voting age to 16 was made during consideration of revisions to the Constitution of Venezuela in 2007. Cilia Flores, president of the National Assembly, announced that the Mixed Committee for Constitutional Reform had found the idea acceptable. [96] Following approval in the legislature [97] the amendment formed part of the package of constitutional proposals, and was defeated in the 2007 referendum.

Maximum voting age

There are occasional calls for a maximum voting age, on the grounds that older people have less of a stake in the future of the country or jurisdiction. [98]

Voting ages around the world

Voting age:
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Voting age:
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  21

Eighteen is the most common voting age, with a small minority of countries differing from this rule. Those with a national minimum age of 17 include East Timor, Greece, Indonesia, North Korea, South Sudan and Sudan. The minimum age is 16 in Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Malta, Nicaragua, Scotland and Wales, and the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey (three self-governing British Crown Dependencies). The highest minimum voting age is 21 in several nations. Some countries have variable provision for the minimum voting age, whereby a lower age is set for eligibility to vote in state, regional or municipal elections.

The only known maximum voting age is in the Holy See, where the franchise for electing a new Pope in the Papal Conclave is restricted to Cardinals under the age of 80.

Alphabetical list of countries

The following is an alphabetical list of voting ages in the various countries of the world. [99]

CountryAgeComment
Flag of Afghanistan.svg  Afghanistan 18
Flag of Albania.svg  Albania 18
Flag of Algeria.svg  Algeria 18
Flag of American Samoa.svg  American Samoa 18
Flag of Andorra.svg  Andorra 18
Flag of Angola.svg  Angola 18
Flag of Anguilla.svg  Anguilla 18
Flag of Antigua and Barbuda.svg  Antigua and Barbuda 18
Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina 16Compulsory between 18 and 70
Flag of Armenia.svg  Armenia 18
Flag of Aruba.svg  Aruba 18
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 18Compulsory
Flag of Austria.svg  Austria 16 [100]
Flag of Azerbaijan.svg  Azerbaijan 18
Flag of the Bahamas.svg  Bahamas 18
Flag of Bahrain.svg  Bahrain 20 [101]
Flag of Bangladesh.svg  Bangladesh 18
Flag of Barbados.svg  Barbados 18
Flag of Belarus.svg  Belarus 18
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium 18Compulsory
Flag of Belize.svg  Belize 18
Flag of Benin.svg  Benin 18
Flag of Bermuda.svg  Bermuda 18
Flag of Bhutan.svg  Bhutan 18
Flag of Bolivia.svg  Bolivia 18Universal and compulsory
Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina.svg  Bosnia and Herzegovina 1816 if employed
Flag of Botswana.svg  Botswana 18
Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil 16Compulsory for 18 to 70; optional for illiterate citizens.
Flag of the British Virgin Islands.svg  British Virgin Islands 18
Flag of Brunei.svg  Brunei 18Village elections only
Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria 18
Flag of Burkina Faso.svg  Burkina Faso 18
Flag of Burundi.svg  Burundi 18
Flag of Cambodia.svg  Cambodia 18
Flag of Cameroon.svg  Cameroon 20
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada 18
Flag of Cape Verde.svg  Cape Verde 18
Flag of the Cayman Islands.svg  Cayman Islands 18
Flag of the Central African Republic.svg  Central African Republic 18
Flag of Chad.svg  Chad 18
Flag of Chile.svg  Chile 18
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China 18
Flag of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.svg  Cocos (Keeling) Islands 18
Flag of Colombia.svg  Colombia 18
Flag of the Comoros.svg  Comoros 18
Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg  Democratic Republic of the Congo 18
Flag of the Republic of the Congo.svg  Republic of the Congo 18
Flag of the Cook Islands.svg  Cook Islands 18
Flag of Costa Rica.svg  Costa Rica 18
Flag of Cote d'Ivoire.svg  Côte d'Ivoire 18
Flag of Croatia.svg  Croatia 18
Flag of Cuba.svg  Cuba 16
Flag of Curacao.svg  Curaçao 18
Flag of Cyprus.svg  Cyprus 18
Flag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czech Republic 18
Flag of Denmark.svg  Denmark 18
Flag of Djibouti.svg  Djibouti 18
Flag of Dominica.svg  Dominica 18
Flag of the Dominican Republic.svg  Dominican Republic 18Compulsory; married persons regardless of age (members of the armed forces and national police cannot vote)
Flag of East Timor.svg  East Timor 17
Flag of Ecuador.svg  Ecuador 16Universal, compulsory for literate persons ages 18–65, optional for other eligible voters
Flag of Egypt.svg  Egypt 18
Flag of El Salvador.svg  El Salvador 18
Flag of England.svg  England 18
Flag of Equatorial Guinea.svg  Equatorial Guinea 18
Flag of Eritrea.svg  Eritrea 18
Flag of Estonia.svg  Estonia 1816 for local elections
Flag of Ethiopia.svg  Ethiopia 18
Flag of the Falkland Islands.svg  Falkland Islands 18
Flag of the Faroe Islands.svg  Faroe Islands 18
Flag of Fiji.svg  Fiji 18As of 2013 Constitution
Flag of Finland.svg  Finland 18
Flag of France.svg  France 18
Flag of French Polynesia.svg  French Polynesia 18
Flag of Gabon.svg  Gabon 18
Flag of The Gambia.svg  Gambia 18
Flag of Georgia.svg  Georgia 18
Flag of Germany.svg  Germany 18Voting age 16 for state elections:

Flag of Brandenburg.svg  Brandenburg, Flag of Bremen.svg  Bremen, Flag of Hamburg.svg  Hamburg and Flag of Schleswig-Holstein.svg  Schleswig-Holstein.

Voting age 16 for municipal elections:

Flag of Baden-Wurttemberg.svg  Baden-Württemberg, Flag of Berlin.svg  Berlin, Flag of Brandenburg.svg  Brandenburg, Flag of Bremen.svg  Bremen, Flag of Hamburg.svg  Hamburg, Flag of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.svg  Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Flag of Lower Saxony.svg  Lower Saxony, Flag of North Rhine-Westphalia.svg  North Rhine-Westphalia, Flag of Saxony-Anhalt (state).svg  Saxony-Anhalt, Flag of Schleswig-Holstein.svg  Schleswig-Holstein and Flag of Thuringia.svg  Thuringia. [102] [ circular reference ]

Flag of Ghana.svg  Ghana 18
Flag of Gibraltar.svg  Gibraltar 18Universal, plus other British citizens who have been residents six months or more
Flag of Greece.svg  Greece 1717 from July 2016 onwards, [103] was 18 prior. People that turn 17 in the year of the elections can also vote. This means that if a 16-year-old teen was born in the last day of 2004, he/she can vote in an election taking place in 2021.
Flag of Greenland.svg  Greenland 18
Flag of Grenada.svg  Grenada 18
Flag of France.svg  Guadeloupe 18
Flag of Guam.svg  Guam 18US citizens, but do not vote in US presidential elections
Flag of Guatemala.svg  Guatemala 18Active-duty members of the armed forces may not vote and are restricted to their barracks on election day.
Flag of Guernsey.svg  Guernsey 16 [104]
Flag of Guinea.svg  Guinea 18
Flag of Guinea-Bissau.svg  Guinea-Bissau 18
Flag of Guyana.svg  Guyana 18
Flag of Haiti.svg  Haiti 18
Flag of Honduras (darker variant).svg  Honduras 18
Flag of Hong Kong.svg  Hong Kong 18Direct election 18 years of age; universal for permanent residents living in the territory of Hong Kong for the past seven years; indirect election limited to about 220,000 members of functional constituencies and a 1,200-member election committee drawn from broad regional groupings, municipal organizations, and central government bodies
Flag of Hungary.svg  Hungary 18
Flag of Iceland.svg  Iceland 18
Flag of India.svg  India 18
Flag of Indonesia.svg  Indonesia 17No threshold for married persons, except for the military and police
Flag of Iran.svg  Iran 18Changed from 15 to 18 in 2007, returned to 15 in 2009 and returned to 18 in 2011 [105] [106] [107] [108]
Flag of Iraq.svg  Iraq 18
Flag of Ireland.svg  Ireland 18
Flag of the Isle of Man.svg  Isle of Man 16
Flag of Israel.svg  Israel 1817 for municipal elections; 17 year olds can also vote in national elections held after their 18th Hebrew calendar birthday
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 1825 for Senate elections
Flag of Jamaica.svg  Jamaica 18
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan 18Lowered from 20 in June 2016. The voting age for constitutional referendums was lowered from 20 to 18 in June 2018 [109] [110]
Flag of Jersey.svg  Jersey 16
Flag of Jordan.svg  Jordan 18
Flag of Kazakhstan.svg  Kazakhstan 18
Flag of Kenya.svg  Kenya 18
Flag of Kiribati.svg  Kiribati 18
Flag of North Korea.svg  North Korea 17Members of the military have the right to vote, regardless of age [111]
Flag of South Korea.svg  South Korea 18Lowered from 19 in December 2019. [112]
Flag of Kosovo.svg  Kosovo 18 [113] [114]
Flag of Kuwait.svg  Kuwait 21For those not in the military or police forces; all voters must have been citizens for 20 years; current proposal for reduction to 18 [115]
Flag of Kyrgyzstan.svg  Kyrgyzstan 18
Flag of Laos.svg  Laos 18
Flag of Latvia.svg  Latvia 18
Flag of Lebanon.svg  Lebanon 21Attempt to amend to 18 on 22 February 2010 failed to pass. [116]
Flag of Lesotho.svg  Lesotho 18
Flag of Liberia.svg  Liberia 18
Flag of Libya.svg  Libya 18
Flag of Liechtenstein.svg  Liechtenstein 18 [117]
Flag of Lithuania.svg  Lithuania 18
Flag of Luxembourg.svg  Luxembourg 18Compulsory until the age of 75. A proposal to lower the voting age to 16 was rejected in 2015 in a nationwide referendum (81% "no"-votes)
Flag of Macau.svg  Macau 18Direct election 18 years of age, universal for permanent residents living in Macau for the past seven years; indirect election limited to organizations registered as "corporate voters" (973 are currently registered) and a 300-member Election Committee drawn from broad regional groupings, municipal organizations, and central government bodies.
Flag of Madagascar.svg  Madagascar 18
Flag of North Macedonia.svg  North Macedonia 18
Flag of Malawi.svg  Malawi 18
Flag of Malaysia.svg  Malaysia 21Voting from the age of 18 to be implemented in the near future. [118]
Flag of Maldives.svg  Maldives 18
Flag of Mali.svg  Mali 18
Flag of Malta.svg  Malta 16
Flag of the Marshall Islands.svg  Marshall Islands 18
Flag of France.svg  Martinique 18
Flag of Mauritania.svg  Mauritania 18
Flag of Mauritius.svg  Mauritius 18
Flag of France.svg  Mayotte 18
Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico 18
Flag of Federated States of Micronesia.svg  Federated States of Micronesia 18
Flag of Moldova.svg  Moldova 18
Flag of Monaco.svg  Monaco 18
Flag of Mongolia.svg  Mongolia 18
Flag of Montenegro.svg  Montenegro 18
Flag of Montserrat.svg  Montserrat 18
Flag of Morocco.svg  Morocco 18
Flag of Mozambique.svg  Mozambique 18
Flag of Myanmar.svg  Myanmar 18
Flag of Namibia.svg  Namibia 18
Flag of Nauru.svg  Nauru 20
Flag of Nepal.svg    Nepal 18
Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands 18
Flags of New Caledonia.svg  New Caledonia 18
Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand 18
Flag of Nicaragua.svg  Nicaragua 16
Flag of Niger.svg  Niger 18
Flag of Nigeria.svg  Nigeria 18
Flag of Niue.svg  Niue 18
Flag of Norfolk Island.svg  Norfolk Island 18
Flag of North Korea.svg  North Korea 17
Flag of North Macedonia.svg  North Macedonia 18
Flag of the Northern Mariana Islands.svg  Northern Mariana Islands 18Indigenous inhabitants are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  Northern Ireland 18
Flag of Norway.svg  Norway 18However, persons 17 years of age are permitted to vote in parliamentary elections if they will be 18 years of age in the year the election is held.
Flag of Oman.svg  Oman 21Except for members of the military and police.
Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan 18Reserved parliamentary seats for women and non-Muslims
Flag of Palau.svg  Palau 18
Flag of Panama.svg  Panama 18
Flag of Papua New Guinea.svg  Papua New Guinea 18
Flag of Paraguay.svg  Paraguay 18Universal and compulsory until the age of 75
Flag of Peru.svg  Peru 18Universal and compulsory until the age of 70; (members of the military and national police could not vote until a Constitutional Reform in 2005 [119] )
Flag of the Philippines.svg  Philippines 18For youth councils: 18 to 24; previously from 15 to 30, then 15 to 18. Incumbents are allowed to keep their positions if they surpass the legal age.
Flag of the Pitcairn Islands.svg  Pitcairn Islands 18Universal with three years' residency
Flag of Poland.svg  Poland 18
Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal 18
Flag of Puerto Rico.svg  Puerto Rico 18Island residents are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections.
Flag of Qatar.svg  Qatar 18
Flag of France.svg  Réunion 18
Flag of Romania.svg  Romania 18
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 18
Flag of Rwanda.svg  Rwanda 18
Flag of Saint Helena.svg  Saint Helena 18
Flag of Saint Kitts and Nevis.svg  Saint Kitts and Nevis 18
Flag of Saint Lucia.svg  Saint Lucia 18
Flag of France.svg  Saint Pierre and Miquelon 18
Flag of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.svg  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 18
Flag of Samoa.svg  Samoa 21
Flag of San Marino.svg  San Marino 18
Flag of Sao Tome and Principe.svg  São Tomé and Príncipe 18
Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg  Saudi Arabia 18
Flag of Scotland.svg  Scotland 16
Flag of Senegal.svg  Senegal 18
Flag of Serbia.svg  Serbia 18 [120]
Flag of the Seychelles.svg  Seychelles 18 [121]
Flag of Sierra Leone.svg  Sierra Leone 18
Flag of Singapore.svg  Singapore 21
Flag of Sint Maarten.svg  Sint Maarten 18
Flag of Slovakia.svg  Slovakia 18
Flag of Slovenia.svg  Slovenia 18
Flag of the Solomon Islands.svg  Solomon Islands 19
Flag of Somalia.svg  Somalia 18
Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa 18
Flag of South Korea.svg  South Korea 19
Flag of South Sudan.svg  South Sudan 18
Flag of Spain.svg  Spain 18
Flag of Sri Lanka.svg  Sri Lanka 18
Flag of Sudan.svg  Sudan 18
Flag of Suriname.svg  Suriname 18
Flag of Eswatini.svg  Swaziland 18
Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden 18
Flag of Switzerland.svg   Switzerland 1816 for cantonal and municipal elections in the canton of Glarus [122] [123] [1/26]
Flag of Syria.svg  Syria 18
Flag of the Republic of China.svg  Taiwan 2018 for referendums
Flag of Tajikistan.svg  Tajikistan 18
Flag of Tanzania.svg  Tanzania 18
Flag of Thailand.svg  Thailand 18Being a Thai citizen since birth, or at least 5 years
Flag of Togo.svg  Togo 18
Flag of Tokelau.svg  Tokelau 21
Flag of Tonga.svg  Tonga 21
Flag of Trinidad and Tobago.svg  Trinidad and Tobago 18
Flag of Tunisia.svg  Tunisia 18With some exceptions [124]
Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey 18
Flag of Turkmenistan.svg  Turkmenistan 18
Flag of the Turks and Caicos Islands.svg  Turks and Caicos Islands 18
Flag of Tuvalu.svg  Tuvalu 18
Flag of Uganda.svg  Uganda 18
Flag of Ukraine.svg  Ukraine 18 [125]
Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg  United Arab Emirates 0But at least 25 for membership of the Electoral College, which consists of a significant minority of all citizens (the minimum age is decided by the ruler of each Emirate and may vary from one Emirate to another) [126] [127]
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom 1818 for United Kingdom wide general elections to the House of Commons.

16 for the Scottish independence referendum, Scottish Parliament elections and Scottish local government elections. [128]

16 for Senedd (Welsh Parliament) elections and Welsh local elections.

Flag of the United States.svg  United States 18However, in many states, persons 17 years of age are permitted to vote in primary elections if they will be 18 years of age on or before the day of the general election.
Flag of Uruguay.svg  Uruguay 18
Flag of Uzbekistan.svg  Uzbekistan 18 [129]
Flag of Vanuatu.svg  Vanuatu 18
Flag of Venezuela.svg  Venezuela 18
Flag of Vietnam.svg  Vietnam 18
Flag of the United States Virgin Islands.svg  United States Virgin Islands 18Island residents are U.S. citizens but do not vote in U.S. presidential elections.
Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg  Wales 16for Senedd and Welsh local elections. 18 for all Welsh citizens and residents in United Kingdom wide elections.
Flag of France.svg  Wallis and Futuna 18
Flag of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.svg  Western Sahara 018 for residents of Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara in Moroccan elections [130]
Flag of Yemen.svg  Yemen 18
Flag of Zambia.svg  Zambia 18
Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe 18

Chronology of lowering the voting age to 18

The following is a chronological list of the dates upon which countries lowered the voting age to 18; unless otherwise indicated, the reduction was from 21. In some cases the age was lowered decrementally, and so the "staging points" are also given. Some information is also included on the relevant legal instruments involved.

non-federal elections: Quebec in 1963, [136] Manitoba on 10 October 1969, [137] Ontario in 1971, [136] Nova Scotia in 1973 following reduction to age 19 in 1970 [138] and British Columbia in 1992 following reduction to 19 in 1952 [139]

Chronology of lowering the voting age to 16

This is a further list, similar to the above but of the dates upon which countries or territories lowered the voting age to 16; unless otherwise indicated, the reduction was from 18.

1980s

1990s

2000s

2010s

2020s

Organizations in favour of lowering the voting age

The following are political parties and other campaigning organisations that have either endorsed a lower voting age or who favour its removal.

Alphabetical list of countries

Australia

Austria

Belgium

Canada

Denmark

Estonia

France

Germany

Greece

Ireland

In 2013, the Constitutional Convention was asked to consider reducing the voting age to 17 and recommended lowering it to 16. [202] The then government agreed to hold a referendum, [203] but in 2015 postponed it indefinitely to give priority to other referendums. [204]

Italy

Netherlands

New Zealand

Norway

Portugal

Romania

Spain

Sweden

United Kingdom

United States

See also

Related Research Articles

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Further reading