Harvie welcomes ’16-17 vote’ Franchise Bill as “a step forward”


  By a Newsnet reporter
MSP Patrick Harvie has welcomed the rubber stamping of legislation that will see 16 and 17 year olds allowed to vote in next year’s independence referendum, calling it a “a step forward”.
The Scottish Green co-convenor welcomed today’s approval by the Scottish Parliament of the Franchise Bill and said he looked forward to the SNP publishing its much anticipated White Paper on independence.

Commenting on today’s historic vote that will see young people aged 16 allowed to take part in a national ballot for the first time, Mr Harvie who is a member of Holyrood’s Referendum Bill committee said:

“Giving sixteen and seventeen year olds the vote has long been Scottish Green Party policy and it’s welcome that everyone except the Tories understood the importance of making it happen next September.

“Whatever the result of the referendum we will continue to campaign for votes at 16 in all elections.”

However the MSP expressed his disappointment that his party’s bid to let prisoners take part in the vote next year did not succeed.

“I’m disappointed my amendments on referendum votes for prisoners did not find favour.  Scotland risks being out of step with human rights and an opportunity to aid rehabilitation has been missed.

“Now the franchise has been agreed by Parliament we look forward to the publication of the Government’s white paper in the autumn, and Scottish Greens will continue to reach out to undecided voters, highlighting the opportunities to transform our society by voting Yes.”

Today’s vote on stage 3 of the Scottish Independence Referendum (Franchise) Bill was overwhelmingly backed in the Scottish Parliament by 103 votes to 12.

The SNP has long been in favour of giving 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote in all elections, and has already made this possible in elections it has the power to change the franchise of, such as health board elections.  The power to enable 16 and 17 year olds to vote in local government and Scottish Parliament elections remains reserved to Westminster.

Commenting, SNP MSP Bruce Crawford said:

“This is a hugely significant day with Scotland’s parliament sending out the message loudly and clearly that 16 and 17 year olds should have the right to shape the country they live in.  The progressive legislation the Scottish Parliament has passed today is a forward looking reform that we can all be proud to have voted for.

“When 16 and 17 year olds can pay taxes, get married and joined the armed forces, it is only right and fair that they should also be entitled to vote.

“Democracy in Scotland has taken a step forward today by giving 16 and 17 year olds the right to participate in next year’s referendum, but we in the SNP are clear that this should be the norm for every election.

“Securing the power to give 16 and 17 year olds the vote at every election is one of the clear gains that are on offer with a Yes vote in next year’s referendum.

“A Yes vote will give us the chance to build upon today’s step forward and go further still by ensuring that 16 and 17 year olds are enfranchised in every vote in Scotland.”