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
  • Contact Josiah on [email protected] / 07717211630

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.

ENDS

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/

Research

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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