Why 16 year olds should be allowed to vote in the Scottish referendum

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By Angela Miller

I’m going to begin this article by explaining why this issue is particularly close to my heart.  My son, who is currently 13 and a half will be 16 years old in the summer before the Referendum.

We’ve discussed this with him, as we often discuss politics in our house, and he is very keen to be able to vote on Scotland’s future.  It will be his Scotland after all, at least he’ll have a part share of Scotland with all of our young people.

By Angela Miller

I’m going to begin this article by explaining why this issue is particularly close to my heart.  My son, who is currently 13 and a half will be 16 years old in the summer before the Referendum.

We’ve discussed this with him, as we often discuss politics in our house, and he is very keen to be able to vote on Scotland’s future.  It will be his Scotland after all, at least he’ll have a part share of Scotland with all of our young people.

When I was at the SNP’s Spring Conference I attended a fringe meeting on Votes at Sixteen and was highly impressed with the young speakers on the panel, in particular Grant Costello MYSP and David Linden were passionate and articulate speakers who we should be watching out for in the future.

The gist of the meeting was a very simple, at 16 young people can get married, get a job, join the armed forces and most crucially, pay taxes.

The very notion that someone who contributes to the state with a portion of their hard earned money has no say in what the make-up of the elected government is actually a complete contravention of democratic principals.

In her maiden address to Parliament, Winnie Ewing backed the contemporary bill passing to reduce the voting age from 21 to 18, but also suggested that it should be dropped to 16 rather than 18.

The policy of votes at 16 is not a new one for the SNP, and was backed by a party motion at conference in the 1980’s.  The idea that the SNP want to bring forward this issue now because they believe that 16 and 17 year olds are more likely to vote for Independence is a poorly constructed argument by the opposition parties.

Just like any voter at any age, they can determine which way they choose to vote for themselves, and it’s certainly presumptuous of the anti-independence camp to say that they believe this age group will support independence.

A recent study found that it is vitally important to establish voting patterns early in a voting career.  People who begin early and are engaged on an important issue are much more likely to become repeat voters than people who do not start early.

The upcoming referendum represents an ideal chance to start a healthy pattern of high voter turnout in an Independent Scotland.

Current voter apathy means that large swathes of the country are going without representation, because they are not being engaged on issues that they feel affect them and they don’t believe that politics improves their lives.  If we can engage the young through the referendum, then we can create a generation of people who are engaged in politics and do believe that it can make a difference to their lives.

We must work fast to get the franchise for 16 and 17 year olds to give them the chance to vote in the referendum, as it will take time to get the legislation through Westminster.  The first step is to get the 100,000 signatories to the e-petition on the Government website.  Sign it here and help a future generation have a say on the biggest question to ever be put to the Scottish people as a whole.