Voting at 16 - facts and figures
In 2006 the Isle of Man became the first jurisdiction in the British Isles to extend the right to vote in national elections to 16- and 17-year-olds. At the time the only countries with universal voting at 16 were Brazil, Cuba and Nicaragua. In Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia it was 16 for persons in employment, while it was 17 in East Timor, Indonesia, North Korea, the Seychelles and Sudan. The Votes at 16 Coalition in the UK described the Manx initiative as “an immensely positive step toward re-engaging young people with politics”, and recommended that the UK should follow.
Royal Assent to the Act was announced in Tynwald Court on 12th July 2006. With the General Election scheduled for 23rd November 2006 this allowed only a few months in which to invite the newly enfranchised voters to register.
Registration and Turn Out
Despite high levels of publicity, of some 2000 residents of the relevant ages, only 718 joined the register, a disappointing 35.9%. Turnout as a proportion of those who had registered came in at 60.2%, very close to the equivalent figure of 61.2% for the electorate as a whole.
In 2011 turnout as a proportion of those registered fell slightly, both among 16- and 17-year-olds and among the electorate as a whole. However, on the plus side there was a sharp increase in the percentage registering to vote. Among the general population of voting age this figure rose from 79.5% to 86.9%. Among 16- to 17-year-olds there was a dramatic rise from 35.9% to 60.1%.
Figures for the 2016 General Election were lower than those for 2011. The percentage of the eligible population aged 16 and 17 who registered to vote did not continue to increase. Instead it fell slightly from 60.1% to 58.5%. Turnout as a proportion of those registered fell from 54.1% to 46.2%.