Devolution committee gives backing to votes at 16

Bruce Crawford

The Scottish Parliament’s Devolution (Further Powers) Committee has given its backing to a bill that would allow 16 and 17-year olds to vote in the next Holyrood election.

The Scottish Election (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill, which would extend the franchise for all future elections to Holyrood and local authorities, has been supported in the committee’s Stage 1 report into the bill.

Powers over the electoral franchise in Scotland are due to be devolved to Scotland’s national legislature, having been backed by the cross-party Smith Commission.

16 and 17-year olds were entitled to vote in last year’s Scottish independence referendum, as the referendum franchise was within Holyrood’s competence.

Committee convener Bruce Crawford MSP said: “All parties represented on the committee and the Parliament agree that 16 and 17 year olds should be able to vote in future elections.

“The experience of last year’s referendum – and the enthusiasm and engagement it generated – demonstrated that young people not only want a voice, they want a vote.

“In our evidence session we have heard from those involved in administering elections, in compiling registers, and from representatives of young people including young people themselves.

“While the committee believes that more needs to be done to ensure that schools and colleges are best supported to help discussion of election issues, we unanimously support the general principles of this bill.”

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