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England & N.I. fall behind Wales and Scotland on voting rights

October 11, 2018 9:53 AM
By Bryan Lewis

Ballot box

Legislation will be introduced to the Welsh Assembly to extend the right to vote to 16 and 17 year olds in Wales.

The Scottish Parliament enfranchised 16 and 17 year olds in 2015 and young people have been voting in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man for over a decade.

England and Northern Ireland are being left behind as the rest of the United Kingdom lead the way in building a better democracy.

By extending the voting age to 16, we will also simply achieve what most already assume to be true, an average first vote age that is closer to 18. At the moment, someone who turns 18 shortly after a General Election will have their first chance to vote for the government aged around 23.

Evidence from the Scottish independence referendum shows that 16 and 17 year olds are more than capable of engaging with political issues and have higher rates of turnout than 18 to 24 year olds.

We are facing an impending turn-out crisis, as each generation votes less than the last. If young people are registered early and get into the habit of voting, we will see lasting improvements in voter turnout. If they vote early, they vote often.