A Tunbridge Wells school girl has launched an online petition demanding the voting age be lowered to 16 as the intergenerational backlash over Brexit continues.
Rosie Judd set up the petition in the wake of Britain’s historic knife-edge decision to leave the EU and in the space of just five days has attracted over 19,000 supporters – entitling her campaign to a formal response from the Government.
But although the petition requests the Government ‘re-hold’ the referendum to allow her peers to vote – arguing the outcome could have been different – she knows the chances of this are negligible. However, while a re-run may be off the cards she hopes that with enough momentum behind her campaign the franchise may be extended for future elections.
“I set up the petition with my friend Lisha Goldring at around 10am on the Friday (June 24) the result was announced.
All of my friends were so frustrated that we were not considered when the vote will ultimately affect us the most,” the Tunbridge Wells Girl’s Grammar pupil said.
She added that even if it is not successful in achieving its stated goal, if enough people sign it will still show 16 and 17 olds are ‘engaged’ in the political process.
A student of Politics at A-Level and hoping to pursue the subject at university, Rosie Judd admits she may be more engaged than many of her peers.
But she points to the high-turnout among sixth form-aged pupils in Scotland during their referendum on independence as an example of where young people voted in droves.
Post vote analysis for the Scottish referendum showed the turnout was 75 per cent for that age group.
“Perhaps in a General Election it would not be as high as that but we do care when it comes to issues of major constitutional importance.
“Every one of my age group that I have spoken to has had an opinion about the EU referendum,” said Rosie Judd who would have voted Remain.
As the campaign gathers pace the next goal for her is to use the formal Government response to help galvanise sixth formers from around the country to sign up.
“I think if people know we are being taken seriously then it will be easier to spread our message,” she said, adding that ‘with enough effort’ her aim of reaching 100,000 signatures – which entitles the petition to be considered for a parliamentary debate – is achievable.
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