Voting at 16 in Practice

Mer, 11/16/2022 - 12:30 / 13:30

205AB, Viale Romania

Speaker: Sylvia Kritzinger , University of Vienna


The idea of lowering the voting age has, among other ideas, been put forward to counter low or decreasing levels of political participation, specifically electoral turnout, and therefore as a way to encourage involvement in politics at an early stage of social and political socialization (see, e.g., Franklin, 2004). I assess empirically this policy proposal that was implemented in Austria more than a decade ago when a general voting age of 16 was introduced in 2007.
I first review the review the Austrian case and how the decision to enfranchise voters aged 16+ came about. I then present empirical evidence on the level of turnout among 16- and 17-year olds using official records from electoral lists. Additionally, data gathered through large-sample surveys will be used to compare 16- and 17-year olds to older voter cohorts with regards to political involvement, political sophistication or maturity. Finally, I will discuss potential implications for policymakers in other countries as well as avenues for further research.