Jonathan Reynolds MP

Representing the communities of Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley, Longdendale, and Dukinfield
labour and coop candidate jonathan reynolds

MP Reynolds: 16 Year Olds Should Have Their Say

STALYBRIDGE and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds has backed plans to give 16-year-olds a voice in the future of the UK voting system.

Currently MPs are elected to Parliament using the First Past the Post system, where electors have a single vote.

But the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill lays open the way for a move towards the Alternative Vote (AV) system, where electors express numerical preferences for an unlimited number of candidates.

If the Bill is backed by MPs, the decision on which voting system to adopt will be made by the public through a Referendum. And, as part of the Bill, MPs are currently considering how that Referendum would be conducted.

This week Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds backed a clause in the Bill for the Referendum to be open to young people aged between 16 and 18. The clause was defeated.

Jonathan says his decision to vote in favour reflects his experience of the young people he has met in the constituency since being elected, in May.  

He said: "I used to be quite certain that 18 was an appropriate voting age. But I have been so impressed by the young people I have met since being elected, that I think there may be a case for it to be lowered to 16.

"As an MP I have taken part in a number of citizenship and other classes in schools and colleges across Stalybridge and Hyde. And in doing so I have been struck by the maturity, knowledge and understanding that many young people have by the time they reach 16.  

"I have talked to a number of 16 years olds who have a clearer understanding and a stronger opinion on the voting system than people who are twice their age - so it seems unfair not to allow them to have a say."

This week Jonathan discussed his views about the current voting age and other issues with a group of more than 70 students Hyde Clarendon Sixth Form College, in Newton.

Following the event, Jonathan said: "The fact that so many young people chose to stay for the event just shows how interested they are in politics.

"Some young people said they didn't feel that they knew enough about the differences between the political parties, but it was clear that they care about the issues, have strong opinions and would not take the responsibility of voting lightly."

The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill, which is currently being considered by Parliament, will determine whether there should be fewer MPs and whether constituency boundaries should be redrawn.

It will also determine the system used to elect MPs. Currently, in the First Past the Post system, electors have one vote. And the candidate who secures the most votes wins the election.

In the AV system electors express their numerical preference for an unlimited number of candidates and the votes from the least popular candidates are transferred until one receives more than 50 per cent of the votes.

Jonathan Reynolds is currently running a poll on his website, on whether the voting age should be lowered to 16. It can be found at www.jonathanreynolds.org.uk


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