The Scottish Government has published a bill to give 16 and 17 year olds the vote in Scottish Parliament and local elections.
The involvement and enthusiasm of young people was a highlight of the referendum and their engagement with the issues and participation in the campaign has left them keener than ever to remain actively involved in the political process.
The publication of the Bill marks the beginning of the Parliamentary consideration process. Subject to the agreement of Parliament, the Bill will be passed in time to allow registration officers to complete their work to ensure 16 and 17 year olds are able to vote in the May 2016 Scottish election.
The Scottish Government’s proposals, set out in the Bill, come after the Privy Council decision to approve the section 30 order that handed power to legislate on the voting age to the Scottish Parliament as recommended by the Smith Commission.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:
September’s independence referendum stimulated an unprecedented level of political engagement in Scotland, not least from the 16 and 17 year old young people who grasped the opportunity to vote for the first time with both hands. This was a truly inspiring period that led to a level of political engagement that few would have predicted and that can only be positive for Scotland going forward.
I warmly welcome the broad cross-party support for the Scottish Government’s proposal to extend the right to vote in Scottish Parliament and local government elections to include 16 and 17 year olds. I am pleased that the legislation has now been introduced to Parliament for consideration, in good time for the Scottish election in May 2016.