This week Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and the Prime Minister David Cameron signed a historic agreement that will give many 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote in the referendum on Scottish independence.
BYC Trustee, and Votes at 16 campaigner, Marc Kidson (24) had this to say about the announcement:
“This is a really encouraging development and one that we at the Votes at 16 Coalition support wholeheartedly. We really hope that David Cameron and Alex Salmon do the right thing and allow 16 and 17 year olds in Scotland the right to have a say in such an important decision that will make a big difference to their futures.
However, while this would be a step in the right direction, the Coalition believes that all 16 and 17 year olds should be given the vote in all public elections and referendums in the UK. At the age of 16, young people are legally allowed to leave school and enter work or training, consent to sexual relationships, get married or enter a civil partnership and join the armed forces. We believe that giving 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote in all public elections and referendums is the logical next step.”
Grant Costello MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, said:
“Lowering the voting age to 16 is a seminal moment on a historic day for Scottish democracy. For the first time 16 and 17-year-olds will be able to have their say at a national level on the way forward for Scotland. We believe it’s entirely right the young people who are the future of Scotland should have their say on Scotland’s constitutional future.
“Allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote shows society believes these young people, who can marry, work, and join the army, are capable of being full active citizens. At a time where far too often young people are ignored or vilified by society, today is a very positive step demonstrating 16 and 17-year-olds are valuable citizens whose hopes and ideas deserve to be heard.
“It’s crucial all 16-year-olds are given the chance to vote on this issue. The Scottish Youth Parliament, together with NUS Scotland, have urged the UK and Scottish Governments to work together to ensure the correct registration processes are in place to allow votes at 16. We pledge to continue to work with all parties to ensure every 16 year-old is able to cast their vote on Scotland’s future.
“The Scottish Youth Parliament’s core belief is the views of young people deserve to be engaged with. That’s why we’ve campaigned for votes at 16 for over a decade. We’re delighted our call has been listened to, but this is a process not an event, and we hope today’s decision paves the way for votes at 16 in all future elections.”
The Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) is a partner of the British Youth Council in Scotland and sends representatives to the UK Youth Parliament as well as helping to run BYC events north of the border. They are also part of the Votes at 16 Coalition.