Scotland’s Electoral Future consultation launched

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Maximising voter turnout at Scottish elections is the focus of a consultation launched today.

The consultation paper “Scotland’s Electoral Future” asks for views on proposals to increase voter participation in Local Government and Scottish Parliament elections.

Opinions are being sought on a number of suggestions, including an extension of the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds in future elections. Those aged 16 and 17 are already eligible to vote in the independence referendum, as well as elections to public bodies in Scotland such as Health Boards.

Other measures being explored through the consultation include the introduction of alternative means of voting, including universal postal voting, and online, telephone, and electronic machine voting.

Opinions are also being sought on varying the order of candidates’ names on ballot papers, in light of previous studies showing that candidates may be discriminated against under the current system of alphabetical listing.

Welcoming the launch of the consultation, Local Government Minister Derek Mackay said:

“I want to see how we can strengthen and improve our electoral processes and encourage wider democratic engagement. This consultation is an opportunity for people to make their views clear on how we can improve voter turnout in Scotland.

“Voter turnout for Local Government and Scottish Parliament elections has been in decline, in common with other developed countries, and we are determined to challenge that trend.

“Locally and nationally, it is important that every effort is made to increase voter participation, and this consultation proposes a number of ambitious measures to help us do that.

“Of course, we can only take forward those measures that the public support, and that is why it is vital that as many people as possible respond to our consultation.

“The referendum is Scotland’s chance to create a fairer and more prosperous nation and has sparked a democratic revival across Scotland, but it is important that we look beyond the 18th of September in our continuing effort to make voting more meaningful for our people and communities.

“That is why I would encourage everyone with an interest in the future of our country to take part in this important consultation.”