ANGUS CHAMPIONS CALL FOR YOUTH TO REGISTER TO VOTE

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Falkirk East MSP praises lowering of voting age as “an opportunity to bridge the generational divide and make politics relevant to young people”

The SNP has today marked UN International Youth Day by calling on young people aged 15 and over to register to vote ahead of next year’s Scottish general election. This reflects this year’s International Youth Day theme of ‘Youth Civic Engagement’.

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Angus MacDonald, Member of the Scottish Parliament for Falkirk East, hailed the fact that, “The 2016 Holyrood election will be the first where 16 and 17 year olds will have the right to vote, following the unanimous passage of the Reduction of Voting Age Bill in June this year. This heralds a resounding victory for enfranchisement and democratisation in Scotland – something that was a missed opportunity at the Westminster elections in May. No society can lose out by more people being engaged in the democratic process, not least those who represent most of all the long term future of our country.”

“By contrast with the UK Government’s intransigence on this issue, here in Scotland the Electoral Commission has already moved forward in the spirit of the Bill and instigated a campaign to maximise voter registration amongst those who will be 16 come polling day for Holyrood.”

The UK’s youngest MP, representing the Westminster parliamentary seat of Paisley and Renfrewshire South, is twenty-year-old Mhairi Black (pictured below). In a statement made earlier, Ms. Black commented, “It is very fitting that we are marking International Youth Day shortly after Scotland became only the second country in the EU to lower the voting age to 16 for national elections.”

Mhairi Black in Westminster

Ms. Black continued, “The SNP has long believed 16 and 17 year olds should be able to vote – and last year’s referendum sparked a spirit of political engagement that saw 110,000 over 16 and 17 year olds use their vote."

"Registering to vote is easy and will only take 5 minutes – just go to gov.uk/register-to-vote. I would encourage all people over 15 to register to vote and, more importantly, to get involved.”

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Mr. MacDonald concurred with the MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South's sentiment, stressing, “This truly is an opportunity to bridge the generational divide and make politics relevant to young people in Scotland. Lowering the voting age sends a strong message to our country’s youth. It proclaims that we are a society who believes that the opinions of young people do matter, that their voices should be heard. It proclaims that their vote can and will influence the future of our nation."  

"To this end, our parliamentary system in Scotland will be made all the richer with more people of Mhairi Black’s generation not only being encouraged to engage with politics but also to consider standing for election themselves.”

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Notes:

1. People can register to vote here: www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
2. Details for UN International Youth Day can be found here: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/events/prizes-and-celebrations/celebrations/international-days/international-youth-day/
3. The Electoral Commission launched its young voter registration drive on 03/08/2015: http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/journalist/electoral-commission-media-centre/news-releases-campaigns/campaign-to-encourage-young-voters-to-register-is-launched-across-scotland
4. Austria is currently the only EU country to allowing voting at 16 in national general elections.

Copyright © Angus MacDonald MSP 2017

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