Young people in Moray are looking increasingly likely to retain the right to vote granted to them in the Scottish Referendum.
The subject of voting rights for 16 and 17-year-olds was a major part of discussions between Scotland’s First Minister and the UK Prime Minister earlier this month, with Nicola Sturgeon saying that she was confident the necessary devolution of powers would be in place in time for the Scottish elections in 2016.
For that to happen legislation needs to be completed before the UK Parliament breaks up for the UK General Election in May.
The call for votes to be granted to 16 and 17-year-olds was backed by the Labour candidate in that election, Sean Morton, who welcomed backing of his own party leader to the concept when he told insideMoray: “I’ve campaigned for Votes at 16 since I left school and I am delighted that Ed Miliband has promised to make it happen.
“What’s more, here in Scotland we will have the power to make it happen in time for the next Scottish Election.”
Now Moray’s MSP, Richard Lochhead, has welcome progress made towards the necessary powers being transferred to the Scottish Government, saying: “During the recent Referendum Campaign, we saw a tremendous engagement in the democratic process by young people which contributed towards the very high turnout figures.
“This was very good for democracy and showed that if young people – who are old enough to marry, pay taxes and are subject to the same laws of the land as everyone else – when given the opportunity to vote, grasped that opportunity and used it to express their view as to the kind of future they wanted to see.
“This progress towards extending the right to vote in time for the next Scottish Parliament elections is therefore very welcome.”
Giving 16 and 17 year-olds the vote for Scottish Parliament elections involves the use of a so-called Section 30 order, which must be laid at Westminster by the end of January so that it gets to the Privy Council meeting on March 19th (the last one before dissolution of the UK Parliament ahead of the general election). This is the final part of the Westminster process.
The Scottish Government will then bring forward legislation to the Scottish Parliament which, subject to parliamentary agreement, will be in force in time to allow registration officers to complete their work in time for the May 2016 Scottish election.