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Situation across the world

While most of us think the voting age has always been 18, this is not the case. In most western democracies the voting age was initially 21 and in some cases higher.

In the last 60 years it has been reduced to 18 in most countries. This proves that the voting age is not static, but it is something that changes as our societies develop and mature. The former state of Czechoslovakia was the first to reduce the voting age in 1946, and by 1968 17 states had done so. Ireland reduced the voting age from 21 to 18 in 1973.

  • In 2014 Scotland granted voting rights to young people aged 16 and 17 for their independence referendum, given the success of this measure, they extended this to all Scottish Parliamentary elections.

  • In 2007 Austria became the first European country to reduce the voting age to 16 for all elections. Therefore 16 and 17 year olds were able to vote in the Federal (General) elections held in Austria in September 2008. 

  • In Germany seven out of sixteen of the constituent states have lowered the voting age to 16 years.

  • Norway with the aim of rejuvenating democracy is allowing 16-year olds  to vote in some of the local communities in the up-coming local elections.

  • In Slovenia 16 and 17-year-olds can vote if they have a job.

  • In one canton in Switzerland, Glarus the voting age has been lowered to 16 for local and regional elections.

  • The Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey have lowered the voting age to 16 years in recent years.  Proposals to lower the voting age in the UK are currently being considered.

  • In December 2008, a British MEP Andrew Duff made a proposal in the European Parliament that 16 and 17 year olds could vote in the European Parliament elections in June 2009 in all member states.

  • Outside of Europe the voting age is 16 in Brazil, Cuba, Nicaragua and the Philippines (local elections only if you are married) and 17 in East Timor, Israel (for local elections), Indonesia, Seychelles and Sudan. In some states of the United States, 17 year olds can vote in Primary elections.