Saturday, 19 September 2009

Independence Relies on the Youth Vote

Bid to lower referendum voting age

Sixteen year-olds should be able to vote in an independence for Scotland referendum, an SNP minister has said.

The Scottish government hopes to have a referendum next year on Scotland's constitutional future. But there is little prospect at present of opposition parties helping the SNP get a referendum Bill through Holyrood.

Mr Russell told Ms Campbell: "I can confirm that it is the Scottish government's intention that 16 and 17-year-olds are given the opportunity to vote in the referendum that decides Scotland's constitutional future to the extent that this is practicable."

He said that as matters of voting franchise were reserved to Westminster, the issue would have to be specifically addressed in the referendum legislation.

"It is my intention to make provisions to this effect in the Referendum Bill that essentially reflect the approach taken for the elections to NHS boards in Scotland," he said.

Legislation passed earlier this year provided for 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in two pilot elections to be held next year for the Dumfries and Galloway and Fife health boards.

And Mr Russell said: "We will continue to work with electoral registration officers to ensure that as many 16 and 17-year-olds are able to vote in the referendum on Scotland's constitutional future as possible."

He said that in the longer term the Scottish government wanted to lower the voting age to 16 for all elections.

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