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by Liam Kirkaldy
18 June 2015
Votes at 16 passed by Scottish Parliament

Votes at 16 passed by Scottish Parliament

The voting age will be lowered to 16 for the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary elections, after legislation to widen the franchise received unanimous backing from MSPs today.

The Scottish Elections (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill, which will allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in Scottish Parliamentary and local elections, will come into effect from spring 2016.

SNP MSP Bruce Crawford said: “The SNP has always believed that the right to vote should be extended to 16 and 17 year olds for all elections - and with the vibrant, passionate contribution of our young Scotland’s referendum debate, they more than repaid that faith.”

He added: “All the evidence shows that when they are given the opportunity, our young people’s engagement in politics is second to none – and that’s exactly why the likely decision of the UK Government to prevent sixteen and seventeen year olds voting in the EU referendum is so foolish.”

Scottish Labour also welcomed the move, with Constitution Spokesperson Jackie Baillie saying: “Scottish Labour welcomes and was proud to support the passage of this Bill. The greatest legacy of the referendum last year is the level of political engagement we saw, and continue to see, in Scotland’s young people.

“It is hugely disappointing that on the same day young people in Scotland have been afforded a say in future elections that the Tories have voted to block the same rights in the forthcoming EU referendum in Westminster.”

The Scottish Liberal Democrats tabled an amendment, rejected by the SNP Government, which would have widened suffrage to include some young offenders.

Lib Dem MSP Alison McInnes said: “I’m disappointed that the SNP Government rejected the opportunity to be bolder and more progressive.

“My amendment was an opportunity to show that the Scottish Parliament is prepared to stand up for human rights.

“We shouldn’t pick and choose which human rights to uphold and which to quietly brush under the carpet because they might generate uncomfortable headlines.”

Meanwhile Westminster considered plans to give 16 year olds the vote in the upcoming EU referendum. The amendment to widen the franchise, tabled by Labour and backed by the SNP, was rejected by 45 votes.

Three Conservative MPs rebelled, voting in favour of votes at 16.

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Read the most recent article written by Liam Kirkaldy - Sketch: If the Queen won’t do it, it’ll just have to be Matt Hancock.

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