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John Swinney comments on voting age

Bill to give 16 and 17 year olds the vote.

Lowering the voting age for Scottish Parliament and local government elections will give young people a voice on matters that affect them, Deputy First Minister John Swinney will say today.

Speaking ahead of the Stage 1 debate on the Scottish Elections (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill taking place in Parliament this afternoon, Mr Swinney said:

“The independence referendum stimulated an unprecedented level of political engagement in Scotland, not least from 16 and 17 year olds who had the opportunity to vote for the first time. Around 109,000 young voters registered to vote in the referendum. That represents around 90 per cent of the estimated number of 16 and 17 year olds in Scotland, which is a clear indication of the appetite amongst young people to participate.

“I warmly welcome the broad cross-party support for the Scottish Government’s proposal to extend the right to vote in Scottish Parliament and local government elections to include 16 and 17 year olds. I am pleased that the legislation has been introduced to Parliament for consideration, in good time for the Scottish Parliament election in May 2016.

“Our approach stands in sharp contrast to the UK Government’s reported plans for the forthcoming EU referendum, where 16 and 17 year olds will not have the opportunity to participate, nor will EU citizens resident in Scotland. As the First Minister has outlined, this is something we will continue to push for.”

The Bill:

  • Lowers the voting age to 16 for Scottish Parliament and local government elections
  • Provides for modifications to electoral registration forms to capture the details of all those eligible to register
  • Makes provision for how young people in particular situations are dealt with within existing electoral registration systems
  • Sets out specific protections to be placed on any data collected on electors aged under 16

The Scottish Parliament was given the power to lower the voting age to 16 at Scottish Parliament and local government elections on 20 March this year. The Scottish Government brought forward the Bill less than two weeks later, on 2 April.


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