16 and 17 year olds officially secure the right to vote in Wales from Monday

Posted on the 28th May 2020

  • Operations note from the Electoral Reform Society

16 and 17 year olds will officially secure the right to vote in Wales’ on the 1st June, for Senedd elections.

Votes at 16 & 17 come into force on Monday, as part of the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Act 2020 [1].

Next year’s elections will be the first in which 16 and 17 year olds and legally resident foreign nationals are allowed to vote in Wales, in a major expansion of the franchise.

The move follows campaigning from ERS Cymru and a coalition of youth and civil society campaigners [2].

ERS figures say Westminster now looks increasingly isolated for barring the UK’s ~1.5m 16/17 year olds from picking their MP. 16/17 year olds can already vote in Scotland for all non-Westminster elections. The UK now has a ‘divided franchise’.

Spokespeople from the ERS will be available for comment on Monday.


Notes to Editors

[1] http://www.legislation.gov.uk/anaw/2020/1/notes/contents
“In Part 3—(a)sections 12 to 26 come into force on 1 June 2020″

[2] See https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/latest-news-and-research/media-centre/press-releases/votes-at-16-to-receive-royal-assent-in-wales-today/

ERS Cymru successfully lobbied parties to back votes at 16/17 during the last Senedd elections: https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/latest-news-and-research/publications/ers-cymru-manifesto/

The Society also provided evidence to the Welsh consultation on votes at 16: http://senedd.assembly.wales/documents/s86762/CLA5-12-19%20-%20Paper%201.pdf
The Society has long campaigned for extending the franchise https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/campaigns/votes-at-16/

UK wide, the Society works with the British Youth Council and other youth focused organisations – including on the All Party Parliamentary Group on Votes at 16 – to make the case for change: https://www.byc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Votes-at-16-APPG-Campaign-Report-2019.pdf

In 2018 the ERS published the Conservative case for votes at 16/17: ‘Civic Duty’, ft figures such as now-Baroness Nicky Morgan: https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/latest-news-and-research/publications/civic-duty-the-conservative-case-for-votes-at-16-and-17/


A survey commissioned by the Electoral Commission following the Scottish Independence Referendum (in which 16 and 17-year-olds were entitled to vote) found that an 75% had taken part.

Further research has showed that these young people planned to stay politically engaged. A survey carried out in February 2015 (after the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014) found that 67% of 16 and 17-year-olds in Scotland indicated they would likely vote if allowed to do so in the General Election, compared to just 39% south of the border.

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