YOUNG VOICES

Scottish Voting Law Will Allow 16 And 17-Year-Olds To Cast Ballots

28/07/2015 20:36 BST | Updated 28/07/2015 21:59 BST
LEON NEAL via Getty Images
'Yes' campaign supporter waves a flag outside Usher Hall ahead of the 'A Night for Scotland' concert in Edinburgh, Scotland on September 14, 2014. Campaigners for and against Scottish independence raced to win over undecided voters ahead of Thursday's historic referendum, as religious leaders prayed for harmony and music fans gathered for a separatist concert. The Church of Scotland's moderator John Chalmers called for Scots to 'live in harmony with one another' whatever the result and hailed the run-up to the independence vote as 'a wonderful democratic concerto'. AFP PHOTO/LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)

Sixteen and 17-year-olds in Scotland will soon be able to vote, after a landmark law was passed by MSPs in Holyrood.

The key new piece of legislation, formally titled 'The Scottish Elections (Reduction of Voting Age) Act 2015', received Royal Assent on Friday.

It will give some teenagers, who have been denied the vote for centuries, the right to cast a ballot in Scottish Parliamentary elections, due to take place in 2016, as well as local government and council elections.

Scotland's commissioner for children and young people, Tam Baillie, hailed the move as a chance to give 16 and 17-year-olds more of a say in the governing of their country.

“Last year’s referendum showed that giving 16 and 17-year-olds the chance to vote strengthens democratic debate in Scotland," he said.

uk young voters

Over 100,000 16 and 17 year-olds voted in the referendum

"Here, we saw the nation’s young people were every bit as engaged and informed about Scotland’s future as voters over the age of 18.

“I am glad the voices of young people will continue to be heard in Scotland, and that they will continue to have their say in how their country is governed.”

Sixteen and 17-year-olds were granted one-off voting rights for last year's independence referendum, and helped bolster turnout by more than 100,000.

John Swinney, Scotland's Deputy First Minister, commented on the proposed law in June, saying: "This Bill provides a detailed, workable and practical framework to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to register for and vote in Scottish elections.

"I welcome the broad cross-party support there has been for our proposals that will give young people a permanent voice on matters that affect them.

“Since we first proposed lowering the voting age, I have been extremely impressed by the thoughtful and passionate contributions that young people have made to the debate - Scotland’s young people have made a persuasive case and should be extremely proud of that.”

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