Votes at 16: Making it a success

Report launch and discussion

17 Jan­u­ary 2023 | 8am San Fran­cis­co, 11am Toron­to, 4pm Lon­don, 5pm Berlin

Sign up for the event here 

Host­ed by   d|part – Think Tank for Polit­i­cal Participation

                        SNF Ago­ra Insti­tute at Johns Hop­kins University

                        Cen­tre for Democ­ra­cy and Civic Engage­ment, Uni­ver­si­ty of Maryland

Cam­paigns to low­er the vot­ing age to 16 have gained immense trac­tion around the globe. Most recent­ly, Ger­many announced a reduc­tion for Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions and the New Zealand Supreme Court ruled that a vot­ing age at 18 was incom­pat­i­ble with the country’s bill of rights. While we have been able to observe what hap­pened when the vot­ing age was low­ered (at least par­tial­ly) in an increas­ing num­bers of coun­tries (such as Argenti­na, Brazil, Aus­tria, Esto­nia, Scot­land or Wales – amongst oth­ers), new cam­paigns have also emerged in many places (with strong efforts under­way, for exam­ple, in Cana­da, Aus­tralia and most recent­ly Moldo­va). Numer­ous Unit­ed States cities have also low­ered the vot­ing age, and a cam­paign in Cul­ver City, Cal­i­for­nia, held a pub­lic ref­er­en­dum on the top­ic that is with­in five votes of passing.

Research has repeat­ed­ly shown that low­er­ing the vot­ing age should not be seen as a con­cern, but rather an oppor­tu­ni­ty to increase polit­i­cal engage­ment of young peo­ple. How­ev­er, we have also seen that the suc­cess of the reform does depend on its imple­men­ta­tion.  We there­fore want to shift the focus from whether the vot­ing age should be low­ered to how it should be done to har­ness the full poten­tial of such a change. For this pur­pose, Jan Eich­horn (d|part & Uni­ver­si­ty of Edin­burgh) and Chris­tine Hüb­n­er (d|part & Uni­ver­si­ty of Sheffield) have con­duct­ed a study that syn­the­sis­es insights from researchers and cam­paign­ers across many coun­tries to bring togeth­er learn­ings for how Votes at 16 can become a suc­cess. At this event, we will launch the main report pre­sent­ing this research. It con­tains an overview of research find­ings and insights from inter­views with aca­d­e­mics and cam­paign prac­ti­tion­ers to share their insights into how cam­paigns can be run to enact change and sub­se­quent­ly imple­ment this change effectively.

The event will be chaired by Scott War­ren (Fel­low, SNF Ago­ra Insti­tute). After a pre­sen­ta­tion of the key insights from Jan and Chris­tine, we will hear reflec­tions from two cam­paign­ers: Jes­si­ca Blair (Elec­toral Reform Soci­ety – Unit­ed King­dom) and Alek­si Toivi­ainen (Vote16 Cana­da). We then hope for a live­ly dis­cus­sion with all par­tic­i­pants – and ulti­mate­ly hope that the report will be a use­ful resource for many engaged in Votes at 16 cam­paigns or the imple­men­ta­tion of enfran­chise­ment changes.

Sign up for the event here.