Members of Scottish Parliament have today granted 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote in Scottish Parliamentary elections and Scottish Council elections. The British Youth Council and Votes at 16 Coalition welcomes the unanimous support for the voice of 16 and 17 year olds in Scotland and calls on the UK Government to follow suit and allow young people’s voice to be heard in the Westminster franchise.
The major win in Scotland comes after a continuous campaign for a lower voting age in all UK elections by the British Youth Council and the Votes at 16 Coalition andrecommendations by the Smith Commission which concluded the Scottish Parliament should be given powers to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in Scottish elections in time for the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary elections.
Mita Desai, Chair, British Youth Council said: “This is a major win for young Scots who will now have the opportunity to directly influence all future Scottish Parliamentary elections and Scottish Council elections. We are pleased to see Members of Scottish Parliament recognise the need to include 16 and 17 year olds who have been calling for this change since 1998. Today’s vote by MSPs and he precedent set by the Scottish Referendum last year only strengthen the argument for the inclusion of 16 and 17 year olds in the EU Referendum, and we hope MPs in the House of Commons recognise and respect that by ensuring 16 and 17 year olds are included in this historical referendum.”
Jordan Linden MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament said: “I am absolutely delighted that MSPs have unanimously supported lowering the voting age to 16 in time for the next Scottish Parliament elections through the Scottish Elections (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill. I believe this will have a hugely positive impact on the overall levels of engagement. The young people of Scotland proved, through their engagement in the referendum process, that they take their right to vote very seriously, and they have collectively dispelled all of the myths and arguments against a lowered voting age. I’m proud that young people’s enthusiasm and passion has been recognised.”
The British Youth Council, which has been campaigning for the enfranchisement of 16 and 17 year olds since 1998, will continue to call on the House of Commons and the Welsh Assembly to ensure that 16 and 17-year-olds are not left behind in other parts of the countryoHous. Proof that the UK is ready for votes at 16 is mounting up, with theYouth Select Committee report released last year, ruling that now was the time to implement measures for all public elections and referendums. The report coupled with the recommendations of the Electoral Commission, which after careful analysis of the Scottish Referendum outlines what should be considered in the event the franchise is amended to include 16 and 17 year olds, means we have both the demand and expertise to repeat this again for the EU Referendum.