Votes for 16s approved
A Bill that will give every 16 and 17 year old the right to add their voice to the most important decision made in Scotland in 300 years has been passed by the Scottish Parliament.
The Scottish Independence Referendum (Franchise) Bill will ensure that everyone aged 16 and over on 18 September 2014 will be able to participate in the historic vote. The Bill also sets out a franchise based on residency and excludes convicted prisoners from voting.
Speaking after the Parliament passed the legislation, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“The independence referendum is an opportunity to ensure that key decisions about Scotland are made by the people who live here rather than by politicians at Westminster.
“Young people have the greatest stake in this country’s future and I am very proud that the Parliament has given them the right to vote on 18 September 2014.”
“The legislation is a crucial step towards next year’s historic vote and in the journey towards a referendum that is made in Scotland.
“It sets out who will be able to vote in the referendum next year – a franchise based on local government and Scottish Parliament elections and one that most closely reflects residency in Scotland. It is right that those who live in Scotland should be able to vote in its future and have a say on the matters that affect them.
“The key difference is extending the right to vote to 16 and 17 year olds. It has been a long-standing policy of this Government that the voting age should be lowered to 16
Ms Sturgeon continued:
“For every one of the last 30 years Scotland has generated more tax per head than the UK as a whole so we have the wealth to build a fairer country.
“Even with limited powers we’ve seen real gains from taking decisions in Scotland such as the abolition of tuition fees and a record number of police on our streets.
"Independence would mean powers over tax, social security and other areas would also come home to protect Scotland from the damaging decisions of Westminster governments people in Scotland didn’t vote for.”