The Welsh Government has announced plans to lower the voting age for local elections to 16, as well as to allow tax-paying non-EU citizens to vote, a move that would enfranchise around 70,000 people in Wales in time for the next council elections in 2022. This brings Wales almost in line with Scotland, where the voting age for both local and Holyrood elections was lowered in 2014.
Wales Young Greens, which has supported the campaign for reform, welcomed the news but continues to demand the voting age also be lowered for Assembly and general elections. In November 2017, the Representation of the People (Young People’s Enfranchisement) Bill was put forward in Westminster by Labour & Co-op MP Jim McMahon to introduce voting at 16 across the UK, but filibustering by Conservative MPs cut short discussion time and meant the bill could not be put to a vote.
Andrew Creak, Co-chair of Wales Young Greens, commented: “16- and 17-year-olds can leave school, start their working lives, pay tax, join the military, get married and start a family, but they cannot vote in the Welsh and UK Governments’ elections. It is clear to young people that our form of democracy is out of date and needs to catch up with modern society.”