16 year olds vote in Scotland but not in the rest of UK

British Youth Council calls for equal voting rights at 16 in UK.

Young people aged 16 and 17 year olds will vote in Scottish Parliamentary elections and Scottish Local Council elections for the first time today (Thursday 5th May 2016).  The British Youth Council and Votes at 16 Coalition are celebrating the historical moment as a landmark in the campaign for Votes at 16, but calls on the Government in Westminster and other devolved nations to make this an equal right in all elections in the UK.

Lowering the voting age continues to be a priority for the British Youth Council and after over 20 years of campaigning for a lower voting age in all UK elections and referenda we’ll continue to call on politicians to restore equal parity of franchise for young people in others parts of the country.

Jon Foster, Chair, British Youth Council said: “Today we can celebrate a huge win for the thousands of 16 and 17 year olds in Scotland who will now have a chance to vote in Scottish Parliamentary elections and Scottish Local Council elections for the first time following the precedent set by the Scottish Referendum back in 2014. We’ll be continuing to call on politicians in every other part of the UK to ensure 16 and 17 year olds get a vote in all elections!”

Katie Burke MSYP, Vice Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament who are members of the Votes at 16 Coalition said: “Today is a historic day in Scotland, and a massive step in the realisation of young people’s rights. Our parliament has campaigned for Votes at 16 since our formation in 1999, and I am overjoyed that our voices have been heard here in Scotland. However, our fellow 16 and 17-year-olds throughout the UK haven’t been afforded this same right, nor will Scottish 16 and 17-year-olds be able to vote in the upcoming EU Referendum or UK elections. We will continue to make the case for Votes at 16 on a UK-wide level until this contradiction is resolved.”

The British Youth Council, which has been campaigning for the enfranchisement of 16 and 17 year olds since 1992, will now call on the House of Commons and the National Assemblies/Parliament to re-open the debate and introduce legislation to ensure equal voting rights.  In 2014 the British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee on Votes at 16 recommended that measures could and should be introduced, and in 2015 campaigned for the vote to be lowered in the EU referendum. This followed the precedent set by the Scottish independence referendum when lowering the franchise engaged a new generation in politics with impressive voter registration and turnout.

Find out more about the votes at 16 campaign.