Campaigners call for UK Government to follow Wales and introduce votes at 16 years old
The Electoral Reform Society are calling on the UK Government to follow in Wales’ footsteps by giving 16 and 17 year olds the vote.
The call comes as Wales prepares for the first set of Senedd elections in May that will include 16 and 17 year old voters.
The new voting laws in Wales which also includes all qualifying foreign citizens could create around 100,000 potential new electors.
Willie Sullivan, Senior Director, Campaigns, Electoral Reform Society said there was a “huge amount of enthusiasm among 16 and 17 year olds for voting this May in Wales” and that the UK Government should follow suit for Westminster and local elections, as this polling shows.
“As the leader of the Welsh Conservatives has noted, parties need to ‘engage and listen to the next generation’, encouraging active citizenship that can improve the quality of debate for everyone.
“Votes at 16/17 is now a point of consensus in Scotland and now in place in Wales too. The UK government must ensure young people across the UK are able to take part in General Elections too. We should be building voting habits that can last a lifetime, giving our democracy a new lease of life.”
Responding to the call Andrew RT Davies MS, Leader of the Welsh Conservatives said his party “welcomes the opportunity to engage with all those now old enough to vote for the first time”, adding it was “the most important Senedd election since 1999.
“A stronger and more successful Wales is only possible if we engage and listen to our next generation and we’ll be doing exactly that in the run up to May,” he said.
A Welsh Labour spokesman said: “Our young people are valued and we want them to know they have place as an active citizen in Wales.
“The pandemic has changed so much of our lives – we want young people to shape the recovery and Welsh Labour will work alongside them to build an fairer, stronger and greener nation.”