Bid to give votes to 16-year-olds

CALLS for 16 and 17 year olds to be allowed to vote in all elections have been made to politicians.

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MPs are debating extending the franchise by lowering the voting age to 16 in the House of Commons today.

The deal struck between the Scottish and UK governments over the independence referendum means the Scottish Government can give the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds for that poll, but all other elections remain for 18-year-olds and over.

Student leaders and members of the Scottish Youth Parliament have urged MPs to follow the Scottish Government's lead and allow younger people to vote in General, Scottish Parliament and council elections.

Robin Parker, President of NUS Scotland, said: "We welcome the Westminster debate to extend the franchise to all 16 and 17-year-olds.

"The Edinburgh Agreement's extension of the franchise will allow 16 and 17-year-olds in Scotland to take part in one of the most important questions ever faced by the people of Scotland.

"It's only right that if 16 and 17-years-olds can be trusted to make an informed choice about Scotland's independence, they should have the ability to choose their representatives in the Scottish and Westminster Parliaments."

Mr Parker urged young people to contact their MP and ask that they back the call to lower the voting age.

Grant Costello, from East Kilbride, who is chairman of the Scottish Youth Parliament, said the time had come to end the anomaly of 16-year-olds being able to marry, join the forces but not vote.

He had campaigned to have young people given the vote for the referendum and now wants Westminster to go further.

He said "It's great to see real momentum building behind the campaign for votes at 16.

"The Edinburgh Agreement has already set a precedent that 16-year-olds should be allowed to vote.

"This debate now provides an opportunity to push forward the debate, and open up the opportunity for 16-year-olds to vote in all elections.

"I hope Scotland's MPs take this opportunity to do the right thing.

"In Scotland we already allow 16-year-olds to get a job, get married and join the army - it's time they were also given the chance to vote for their government together in an agreement that opens the door to votes at 16."

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