Educating Young Voters and Lowering the Voting Age to 16


Students in Europe spend almost 7.300 hours per year at school, and most of them are dedicated to studying Maths, Biology, Economics or Chemistry. We can all agree these constitute essential subjects. However, why is politics not included in the curriculum of every country? After debating and knowing what is going on around the world, we realised that even if in Germany and in Sweden there are classes about politics until high school, in Portugal, Spain, Ukraine and Ecuador these classes are not a part of the curriculum. Given its relevance in the understanding of concepts that greatly impact our lives, why not talk about Democracy in school?

Actively encouraging the development of the youth’s critical thinking regarding politics is still a challenge in many countries around the world. Along with this measure, we propose the lowering of the voting age to 16 years. In many countries the voting age comes years after reaching the working, driving and criminal responsibility age. If 16-year-olds are mature enough to pay taxes, why are they not considered mature enough to vote and decide what those taxes are used for?


The goal is to dismantle the barriers that exclude youth from political life and guide them towards a stronger preparation for future active participation. It is fundamental to enable young people to have their own space and political say in order to contribute to the society they live in. Unfortunately this is not an equally accessible opportunity, geographically speaking, so we want to bring this to a global level. Our main goal is to foster inclusion, education, empowerment and participation of the youth. Only then, as a consequence, we propose lowering the voting age to 16.

  • Participation: the public education system should guarantee young people’s access to all necessary tools in order to engage in debates and organise themselves in assemblies or school parliaments. Proposal #4 is an excellent example of how to introduce hands-on experience on the voting system to the younger segments of society, to get them involved in the democratic process early on in their life. All this facilitates and encourages their future participation in matters regarding higher institutions.
  • Education and Empowerment: Education is the essential means through which we can accomplish our goal, the tool that becomes the meeting point between youth and democracy. Through proper education we will empower young minds to become the change they want to see. It is essential to equip them with the necessary knowledge to comprehend the functioning of the government system in their country, as well as the impact of their participation in it. General knowledge about the most commonly used government systems around the world should also be included in the curriculum to achieve a global understanding of the matter.
  • Lowering the voting age: Once provided with political education, young minds can turn their values and motivation into action to change the status quo. Thus, we can proceed to the next step: lowering the voting age to 16 in all types of elections, as a way to increase representation and participation of the youth.

The core of this proposal is the implementation of a theoretical and practical formation for students, starting from primary school and continuing until the end of high school. We suggest the introduction of a compulsory subject, as well as of programs on government systems, into school curriculum. In order to do that, we advise reaching relevant stakeholders and policy makers through the Youth Outreach Unit of the European Parliament and the European Parliaments flagship event for youth – EYE. Raising awareness among the young and general public through campaigns is another option worth giving proper consideration.

Lowering the voting age can be implemented either top-down or bottom-up depending on the government apparatus. In the EU there could be a directive that will set lowering voting age as an objective.

In countries where democratic education already exists, lowering the voting age can already be introduced as a suggestion to their governance. In countries that do not possess such a subject, an impartial and useful education regarding the political system of the country must be implemented . Lowering the voting age to 16 should only be introduced as an option when the first generations of students that benefited from this politics education starting from primary school reaches age 16. In the case of countries, such as Ecuador, where the voting age is 16, but that do not include politics education in their curriculum, its implementation should be diligently encouraged.

The final product will be promoted through UNESCO, which we believe is a suitable platform for pioneering the project and taking action about education in Democracy in the world, including the youth.


The implementation of a subject concerning politics in the educational system at a global level will provide students with the necessary knowledge to make a change in the world, by understanding what democracy is, how the elections work, and why it is important for them to participate in political life.

Lowering the voting age is a measure for fostering a more inclusive and representative democracy. By recognizing the political agency and awareness of younger generations, this reform acknowledges that individuals as young as 16 are actively engaged in civic life and possess a stake in the decisions that shape their future.

Extending the right to vote to a broader age demographic empowers young people to directly influence policies that impact them but also instils a sense of civic responsibility from an earlier age. This shift not only enhances the democratic process by diversifying perspectives but also sends a powerful message about the importance of youth participation in shaping the trajectory of a nation.

Lowering voting age might motivate political parties to address the young electorate to include policies that will tackle the challenges that young people face. This might also increase youth voter turnout and representation. Hence, they may be more likely to vote.