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It’s our future, so give us the vote, says Bury St Edmunds student Scarlette Gilby

I am part of Generation Z. This is the widely used name for those born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s.

According to something I read in The Daily Telegraph, we are ‘smarter, safer, and more mature’ and this generation ‘wants to change the world’. From social issues to climate change, my generation is apparently one of the most actively aware yet. Now I do not know how you measure such things but I do know that, based on what I have read, it is yet another argument for giving us the vote.

Look at all the major news stories this week: whether it be Brexit, global threats such as mass extinctions, climate change, a looming energy crisis, intractable political problems fuelling terrorism around the world… every one of them is a long-term situation. The effects of every one of them will be felt long into the future – decades at least – and every one of them is something my generation is going to have to live with.

Should 16-year-olds get the vote?
Should 16-year-olds get the vote?

The uncertainty and fear these threats cause is magnified for teenagers because of our lack of voice.

Of course, you will hear the beliefs of many ‘adults’ – perhaps based on what they were like as teenagers – that we are too immature, ‘crazed’ by teenage chemicals coursing through our brains and therefore lacking proper judgement.

On the contrary, in 2018, teenagers are more educated and mature than they have ever been. Studies have shown that there is little difference in the capabilities of those of voting age – 18 – and those a year or two younger. So why can’t we vote?

Inevitably, this brings us back to discussing Brexit, the botched referendum and shambles that has followed. Seventy-one per cent of under-25s voted Remain. Unfortunately and unfairly, they were overshadowed by 64 per cent of older voters, who chose Leave. So Brexit is not fair, not just because of the misinformation upon which the Leave vote was based but also because teenagers whose lives will be blighted for years to come were not given a say.

A lot of us who are my age are angry at the result of the referendum. We do not want Brexit. Perhaps, one day we will have a chance to reverse it. With all due respect to them, a lot of the people who voted for Brexit will feel far fewer of the effects than we will. If the vote were re-run, I am not advocating that older people should not vote, though I suspect lots of them might change their minds, having seen what has happened since the referendum. But if it were re-run with 16 and 17-year-olds having a say, the decision would be reversed without a shadow of a doubt. We would feel as if we had decided our own futures, rather than having them imposed on us.

The voting age should be 16, to give us more say over the long-term issues that most affect our futures. We are smart, mature and want to change the world. Please give us the chance.