Its Official: Scottish 16 and 17 year-olds will vote in May 2016 elections
Next May, Scotland’s 16 and 17-year-olds will be voting in the weighty Scottish parliamentary elections. It will be their first time back in the voting booth after posting an uplifting 85% turnout last September for the Indy referendum. While the idea of a teenage voting franchise has been on political screens for some time in the United Kingdom, it was the inspiring performance of Scottish youth in last year’s independence referendum that sealed the deal, at least in Scotland.
In an unusual display of cross-party support and compromise, legislation was fast tracked last December through the UK Parliament at Westminster to devolve necessary additional powers to Scotland so that the Scottish Parliament could enact required legislation in time to pave the way for the young spats to have their say in the Scotland-only May 2016 elections. The Scottish Parliament completed their part a few weeks ago. Now the registration campaigns take over to make sure that the 2016 turnout doesn’t fall flat.
Scotland’s upcoming parliamentary elections may well decide the Scottish mandate for holding a second independence referendum as well as electing a new Scottish Parliament. No worries. Scotland’s youth are used to big decisions. Having been granted a one-off right to vote in last year’s Indy referendum, estimates say that of the 3.6 million Scots who voted, approximately 110,000 were under 18. That is an 85% turnout for the youthful age group.
In a bit of surprise, the first time first time voters sounded off heavily “YES” at around 79% pro-independence votes. Indeed, pre-referendum polling suggested that more than 40% of the newly registered young voters were likely to vote differently than their parents. They did. The world will learn a bit more about what Scotland’s future is going to look like when Scotland’s young people go back to the polls next May.
Presuming that Scotland doesn’t find 100,000 write in ballots for Justin Bieber in the ballot boxes next May, the whole of the United Kingdom might take the matter up following the Scottish elections. Despite David Cameron being personally opposed to under 18 voters, all other major parties have signaled their support for the reform.