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That the value of a citizen’s vote should diminish

with age.
C Grade Round 1, 2017

A principle of democracy is ‘one person, one vote’- that is that each person in society should
have an equal say in elections and making decisions. But does democracy always work and
could we improve it?

Supporters of this proposal talk about a lack of long term planning in politics on issues that
will directly affect young people in the future such as climate change or affordable housing,
and a lack of youth representation in parliament. In the current parliament, there is only one
person aged 30 or under, and 41 people aged 60 or over.

Last year, there was a clear split between young people and older people in the UK ‘Brexit’
vote, with young people tending to vote for ‘Remain’ while older people tended to vote
‘Leave’. Younger votes have appeared in the media criticising older voters because any long
term negative impacts of ‘Brexit’ are more likely to affect young people in the future. Older
voters responded by critising younger voters for a lack of engagement in politics, and for
failing to actually show up and vote.

Critics say that young people are not mature enough, or engaged enough to make the right
decision, with the brain still developing until people are in their mid-20s, long after they can
start voting. They also say that life experience is important when making decisions about the
future of a country, and that age is not necessarily a reliable measure of how someone is
likely to vote.

Focus questions:

When preparing for this debate, you should ask yourself:

1. What is democracy? What are the alternatives? Does it work currently? Why/why not?
2. How might we improve democracy?
3. What are the current problems with Australia’s elections and voting?
4. What problems might occur with moving away from ‘one person, one vote’ and giving
different groups of people more or less of say?
5. Why should young people have more of a say? Why should older people get less of a
6. What issues do young people care about? What issues do older people care about?
7. What sorts of issues are important at elections? Which issues would be affected by this
idea? Would they be affected positively or negatively?
8. How might a young person vote differently to an older person?
9. At what age, if at all, does someone’s vote become less relevant? Is a person’s vote
ever worthless?
10.Are young people more or less engaged in politics than older people? Would this
change that?

Further Reading
- Younger citizens should have more votes than those over 60
- Young people and political engagement
- Arguments against young people having more of a say by lowering the voting age
to 16.
- ‘Angry old people shouldn’t be allowed to vote’
- Statistics of the 45th parliament, age of members of parliament