In a UK first, 16 and 17 year olds will be able to vote in elections to new Health Boards across Scotland.
New legislation – passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament last week – will see elected Health Boards established across Scotland, for the first time allowing members of the public to be directly elected to oversee the work of local health services. These new elections are the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament, which chose to enfranchise 16 and 17 year olds. The Scottish Parliament also backs Votes at 16 for all elections in Scotland – but the power to implement this decision is retained by Westminster.
Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon MSP said: “Elected health boards will give power back to local people. They represent a major boost for democracy and accountability. These elections will have the added bonus of giving 16 and 17 year olds their first taste of the democratic process which I hope will show them that their opinions do matter and can help shape public services.”
A Votes at 16 Coalition spokesperson said: “There has been a strong support for Votes at 16 across Scotland, and the Scottish Parliament has been a longstanding supporter of the campaign to enfranchise 16 and 17 year olds. We are very pleased that Members of the Scottish Parliament have actually delivered on this promise now they have had the power to – and we call upon the Government at Westminster to respect the Scottish Parliament’s democratic decision and allow them to implement Votes at 16 for all elections across Scotland.”