- Press release from the Electoral Reform Society, for immediate release, 4th April 2019
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Votes at 16 is back on the agenda, with MPs set to demand a ‘fairer franchise’ in Parliament on Wednesday.
MPs from across the Commons will call for the government to extend the vote to 16 and 17 year olds in a Westminster Hall debate on Wednesday [around 9.30am], in a move that follows mounting pressure for the rest of the UK to catch up with Scotland in extending the franchise.
Votes at 16 was passed unanimously in the Scottish Parliament in 2015 for all non-Westminster elections, and a bill to extend voting in Welsh Assembly and local elections is currently making its way through the Senedd. Campaigners argue the government must embrace a ‘united franchise’ for the next election.
Giving 16 and 17 year olds the vote In Scotland has resulted in a higher turnout among 16- and 17-year olds than their 18 to 24-year-old counterparts, and helped spur a revival in political engagement across the board .
The debate comes following the release of a new report by the APPG on Votes for 16 – a collection of analysis and commentary from supporters of the campaign to extend voting rights to 16-year olds .
The report includes contributions from MPs including Danielle Rowley, Norman Lamb and Nicky Morgan as well as British Youth Council, CEO, Cat Hobbes and Darren Hughes from the Electoral Reform Society.
This August sees the 200th anniversary of workers’ struggles to secure the vote .
Darren Hughes, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:
“From the recent school climate strikes to campaigning on Brexit, it’s clear that young people are increasingly active in politics and want their voices heard. It’s time for politicians to recognise that and extend the right to vote so these young people can have their say at the ballot box too.
“The evidence shows that if you vote in your first election, you’ll carry on voting for life. This is what we all want as democrats – to keep that momentum going and inspire a generation of active citizens. Extending the right to vote would allow that seamless transition from learning about voting to putting it into practice.
“The time for extending the civic duty of voting is now. The Prime Minister should seize this opportunity to show leadership create a truly united franchise for the UK.”
Notes to Editors
 See https://www.byc.org.uk/news/2019/cross-party-group-of-mps-call-for-votes-at-16-in-new-report
Read the ERS’ most recent report on the Votes at 16: https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/latest-news-and-research/publications/civic-duty-the-conservative-case-for-votes-at-16-and-17/