Welsh Assembly moves closer to lowering voting age to 16

Beyond England In the media News

The Welsh Assembly has taken a step closer to giving the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds from 2022.

They are also considering renaming the Assembly ‘The Welsh Parliament’ as part of a package of reforms due to be put before AMs for approval.

If 40 of the 60 AMs say yes, Wales will follow Scotland in lowering the voting age, increasing pressure on the Government to do the same for teenagers in England.

Welsh Cabinet Secretary Alun Davies told the BBC Wales Sunday Politics Show: “Everybody who pays taxes should be able to vote.”

Scotland has already lowered the voting age and 16-year-olds were able to take part in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum.

The Scottish and Welsh changes would not apply to Westminster elections, where the voting age remains at 18, as it does for English local elections.

But the Electoral Reform Society has said that it is time for England to lower the voting age to establish consistency across the UK.

Its chief executive Darren Hughes, said: “Votes at 16 and 17 for the UK is now a matter of when not if.”

Jess Blair, director of the Electoral Reform Society Cymru, said: “Wales is leading the way in empowering a whole new generation of active citizens.

“There is a widening gulf between people and politics, which we can help reverse by nurturing active and engaged young citizens.”

She said Westminster should follow suit: “Plans to extend the franchise to 16- and 17-year-olds in Wales put Westminster’s dismal democratic record in sharp relief.”

The Welsh plans are contained in the Welsh parliament and elections (Wales) Bill due to be put before AMs and a final vote is expected to take place next year.

Welsh Assembly presiding officer Elin Jones said the move would signal that politicians valued the views of young people.

She added that it would be accompanied by political and citizenship education for young people voting for the first time.

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