I know I'm out on a limb here, as both the Liberal Democrats and the Electoral Reform Society, both of which I am an enthusiastic member, advocate that the voting age be reduced to 16. But I can generate little enthusiasm.
Most of my teaching career has been with the 16-18 year old age group - sixth formers generally preparing for university. At 16 most of them have simply parroted their parents' views on social, political and economic issues. By the end on the two-year course some were beginning to think more critically, but most still adhered to the family prejudices. I myself was no exceptions: I was in my mid- 20s before I saw the Liberal light.
Professor Vernon Bogdanor, an "expert" on the constitution, argues in favour of votes at 16 because he believes that school pupils will still have in mind their civics lessons and so gain the habit of voting. If they have to wait for another two years they may never get into the habit. I find these arguments unconvincing. As a teacher of social sciences I have occasionally been lumbered (I use that word advisedly) with giving the civics lessons, and they have all been crass failures.
I acknowledge that others may have been more successful, but I found the kids just weren't interested in how to vote, what local councils and councillors do, how parliament works and what a privilege is it to live in a democracy. I also acknowledge that this may not be the most successful approach, but it is the content that the "man form the council" had in mind a few years ago when were were subjected to in-service training on the topic. Some months later Tony Blair illegally invaded Iraq and hundreds of pupils in our area played truant in order to join protest marches. The council were outraged.
Just as in the Third World you don't stop the drift to the towns by putting more agriculture in the curriculum, we shall not invigorate our democracy by tinkering at the edges with the procedures: longer hours for voting, polling booths in supermarkets, more postal votes, lowering the age, electing police commissioners. To make democracy meaningful children need to participate in it in their homes and schools by sharing in a limited way in making the decisions that affect their lives, and adults in the wider society by devolving meaningful power to communities to make their decisions, and by electoral systems which make most votes count for something.