Old Enough to Join Up but Not to Vote; ELECTION 2005: YOUR SHOUT: The Page Where Teenagers Set the Agenda

Article excerpt

Byline: DEAN VALLER

ON THURSDAY voters across the UK will go to the polls to elect a government to lead the country for the next four years.

With issues such as university tuition fees a hot topic, particularly among young people, many may argue that the voting age should be lowered to 16.

School leavers under 18 can sign up for the armed forces and get married but are not allowed to vote for who should lead the nation.

Reporter DEAN VALLER asked school pupils who visited the Evening Telegraph offices whether they thought 16-year-olds should be allowed to vote.

CHRISTINA EADES, AGED 15 D25385_5 SCHOOL: Myton School, in Warwick.

SUBJECTS: GCSEs in English, science, maths, business studies, geography, and German.

AMBITION: To be a newspaper reporter in San Francisco.

INTERESTS: Listening to pop music - my favourite singer is Britney Spears - and watching Formula 1 motor racing and World Superbikes motorcycle racing.

VERDICT: I don't feel 16-year-olds should be allowed to vote because it's important to understand the political reasons for voting for a party and I don't think enough 16-year-olds have this. But, by the same token, it does seem unfair that you can be in the army and yet you cannot vote. If I could vote I would back the Conservatives because I'm totally against Labour and I do not think Tony Blair is a good prime minister.

MATT LUNTLEY, AGED 16 D25385_2 SCHOOL: Castle Sixth Form Centre, Kenilworth.

SUBJECTS: A-Level English Language, English Literature, sociology, and music technology.

AMBITION: To become a newspaper journalist.

INTERESTS: Supporting Chelsea Football Club, playing second row for Leamington Rugby Club's under-17s, playing bass guitar in a band called Tempted Silence with friends.

VERDICT: 16-year-olds should not be allowed to vote because, while some have quite high political opinions, most do not know enough.

They are not aware enough to form their own views and would listen to their friends and parents and not take the process seriously.

ROBERT KNOWLES, AGED 14 D25385_2 SCHOOL: Nicholas Chamberlaine, Bedworth. …