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Electoral milestone: Welsh 16 and 17 year olds allowed to vote in local elections

Today marks a day of great change in Politics. 16 and 17 year olds in Wales have been granted the right to vote in the upcoming Senedd election, which is planned to be held on May 6th 2021.

The Senedd election will decide on the 60 elected members of Senedd Cymru, Welsh parliament. It is responsible for issues surrounding health, education and transport.

The election comes at a very interesting and trying time for the government, with all eyes on them and their responses in dealing with the ramifications of COVID-19. The impact COVID-19 has had on the health, education and transport sectors will need to be considered carefully by those vying for power.

The Electoral Reform System (ERS) labelled the news: “A victory for young people.” It came about from extensive campaigning from both ERS Cymru and youth and civil society campaigners.

A spokesperson for the Welsh Local Government Association argued that the inclusion of young people in the election was particularly important because:

“A thriving local government depends on residents from all backgrounds feeling engaged with their local councils.”

As young people are gaining more independence and seeking employment, it is “important that [they] have their say on who represents their community.”

The announcement comes after Scottish parliament’s decision to allow 16 and 17 years olds to vote in Holyrod and local elections in 2015.

A survey commissioned by the ERS after the Scottish Independence Referendum, where 16 and 17 year olds could vote, discovered that 75% in this age group participated. It implies that a similarly high turnout rate will occur for those of the same age in the 2020 Senedd election.

The news has increased pressure on Westminister to follow suit. In England, it is apparent that there is a divide between younger and older voters. Younger voters are often referred to as “open” voters and older, “closed,” to reflect younger people’s more open attitude to factors such as immigration: a factor that was divisive in the 2016 EU Referendum, according to the Think Tank, Global Future. So, the inclusion of younger voters in elections can have a significant impact on election results.

A petition has even been started to pave the way for 16 and 17 year olds to have their say in Westminister elections. Please access and sign it HERE if you want to have your voice heard in future elections. I certainly will, as a Political Communication student.

AUTHOR: Danielle Desouza

I am a 21 year old Politics and Communication Masters student at LSE, makeshift musician and aspiring political broadcaster. I am a staunch supporter of both gender and racial equality, being female and Indian. I want to edge closer to this goal daily by bringing to light injustices, through all forms of journalism.


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