What do voters make of proposals to lower the UK's voting age?

  • Insight
  • 3 June 2024

Our new polling shows that the public oppose proposals to lower the voting age to sixteen, and are cynical about the reasons why Labour might introduce the lower voting age.

More in Common’s polling sheds new light on what the public thinks about the Labour Party’s suggestions that they plan to consider lowering the UK’s voter age to 16.

Half of the public opposes the proposals

Asked whether they support or oppose lowering the voting age to 16, 47% of the public oppose and 28% support.

Changing the question wording changes responses slightly - but there is still overwhelming opposition.

The policy lands well with Labour’s base but puts off swing voters

People who voted for Labour in 2019 overwhelmingly support the policy - with 53% supporting it and 23% opposing it. 

On the other hand, Labour’s new swing voters who voted for the Conservatives in 2019 but are now backing Labour are divided - 39% support the policy and 38% oppose it.

Another important voter group is the “Whitby Woman” - older women who don’t have a degree, and own their home. This group overwhelmingly voted Conservative in 2019, but are likely to stay home this election. 82% of them oppose this policy, and only 5% support it. If this policy scares Whitby Women enough about the prospect of a Labour government, they could come out in greater numbers to support the Conservatives, which would make it more difficult for Labour to achieve their desired landslide victory.

The public doesn’t trust Labour’s intentions with this policy

The public overwhelmingly think that Labour is proposing this policy because it will benefit Labour electorally, not because Labour thinks it will be good for the country.

Even people currently intending to vote Labour (narrowly) think that the party is proposing this for selfish reasons - 44% think they are doing it to benefit themselves, 41% think they are proposing it because it would be good for the country.

When did Britons feel ready to vote?

25 per cent of Britons say they did not feel mature enough to vote until after they were 18 - and this is even higher for older voters.

In contrast, 26 per cent of British adults say they felt ready to vote before they were 18 - and this number increases significantly for younger adults