Voting and Participation

How to vote and why you should, as well as other ways to get involved in local and national politics at all ages
Polling Station sign outside an Oxford Polling Station

Anyone aged 18 and above can vote to decide who is elected to government. 

Voting makes sure your voice is heard. It is your way to directly influence government, through deciding who is elected. 

  • As soon as you turn 18, you have the right to vote.
  • You vote to chose decision makers in both local and central government.

You can vote

  • In local, national and European elections for the political party whose aims you most agree with.
  • Voting is very important as it allows you to have a say nationally in who should run the country and locally in who should be your MP.

Even before you are old enough to vote, there are ways you can get involved in and influence local and national decision making.

Take Action: You can register to vote as soon as you are 16

The Electoral Register

You have the right to vote in local and general elections as soon as you turn 18, but to do so your name must be on the Electoral Register.

You can add your name to this list as soon as you turn 16 by using the form sent to every household each autumn, or by picking one up from your local council office. You can also register online or by post.

Crucial: The council must have your form before April if you want to vote in a May election.

Votes at 16

Are young people aged 16+ too young to vote?

Some people believe that 16 year olds should be given the right to vote. This is regularly considered by Parliament and other organisations. Some people think 16 year olds are too young. What do you think?

Take action: Find out more about the Votes at 16 campaign

Other ways to participate

Before or after you start to vote, there are many other ways to get more involved in the democratic process and get your voice heard. You can:

  • join your local Youth Council or School Council
  • become a young person trustee
  • take part in consultations

​There are often public consultation events in your area, about plans for local areas and services. You can always ask to be involved in these consultations, as consultations should be seeking the opinions of everyone including children and young people. 

Find out more

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