To say that Malta is divided on this debatable question would be an understatement. This matter did stir up several different insights which to some extent all make sense. Age is of vital importance. So is it time for the voting age to be reduced to 16? After all youths are not only the future, they are also the present!
I interviewed 20 students who’s ages vary from 16-25 and asked them questions about this. Surely the final results took me by surprise. So here goes. Most of the younger generation (age 16-25), believe that yes, the voting age should be reduced to 16. Still, there should be a build-up. You cannot just give 16 year olds the right to vote without proper education. This could be highly beneficial for local councils, if 16 year olds are allowed to take a step further, and actually contest the election. We need to come to terms with what a big responsibility this is. If this were to be a success, we as a country, would not only manage to reach certain EU standards, we would be able to exceed them.
Pulse President, Matthew Zerafa says that, before the green light is given, there should be various opportunities which offer some testing grounds. If done right, it would be of great benefit. If all the necessary preparations are made, then this transition should happen naturally, starting from Local Councils, allowing them to grow gradually, and maybe 16 year olds would even be able to vote for the Members of the European Parliament elections and eventually even General Elections.
SDM President, Mark Grech, is also in favour of allowing 16 year olds to vote. However, he too believes that youngsters should understand that this is not a proposal should be analysed responsibly. He believes that a new subject should be introduced which teaches students all about the importance of this decision. There also needs to be some sort of training especially if it goes as far as 16 year old students participating as candidates in elections. One needs to keep in mind that with great power comes great responsibility and even though 16 year olds can be mature and responsible, the fact still remains… they are young. This is why it is of utmost importance that we should, as a country, be fully prepared to do this.
A minority believe that reducing the voting age would be a big mistake which will only humiliate the country. Some people argue that 16 year olds are simply too young and if the voting age is lowered, would it be fair that students can vote but cannot drink and drive?
Some also state the idea behind reducing the voting age is that so the Government can gain more block votes. There are those who believe that the voting age should not be lowered down, not because they are not mature enough, but because secondary schools do not provide youths with the opportunity to get in touch with the political world.
Upon writing this article, I believed that the voting age should not be lowered down to 16 because it would only create unnecessary conflicts. It can only backfire if we use it irresponsibly, if we choose not to educate young people. I believe that if we want to make this proposal work, we must all come as one and work together. It might take years before it is put to test but I do ask: will this actually be of benefit to us?