Local MSP Jackie Baillie pledged her support for legislation to deliver votes for 16 and 17 year olds during a debate in Holyrood today.
Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s constitution spokesperson, told MSPs that the referendum experience had engaged a new generation of young people in politics and that they should have the right to vote in time for the Scottish Parliament elections next year.
The Dumbarton MSP also shared the views of two local young parliamentarians who support a change in the law. Stephanie Thomas, from Helensburgh, and Alex Robertson, from Alexandria, were recently elected to the Scottish Youth Parliament and will take up their positions as MSYPs after the summer.
“The energy 16 and 17 year olds brought to the referendum debate shows exactly why they should be allowed to vote. Young people at schools across Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh took part in debates and mock elections and it is only right that their voice is heard in the Scottish Parliament elections next year.
“I was also delighted to share the views of two of our youngest local campaigners. A little known fact about Scottish politics is that the Scottish Youth Parliament is actually older than the Scottish Parliament itself – it opened one day before MSPs met for the first time in 1999. No debate about the future of our country should take place without the future of our country being involved.”
Stephanie Thomas, MSYP-elect for Helensburgh and Lomond said:
“I definitely think that it would be a good idea to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote. It will get them more involved in politics and let them make choices on things that affect them.
“With the education that you gain now you know how to vote and also how the voting systems work but by the time you turn 18 you have then forgotten most of the stuff you learnt.”
Alex Robertson, MSYP-elect for Dumbarton and the Vale of Leven said:
“I feel as a 16 year old myself that having a say in my future is a very important thing. At 16, a young person is allowed by law to make many complex decisions such as getting married or leaving school to enter into further education or jobs. I feel that it is impossible to justify the exclusion of 16 and 17 year olds from the right to vote when we are already able to take on a wide range of responsibilities.
“I also believe that including 16 and 17 year olds in voting will help to engage them into our expanding democracy. In the Scottish Youth Parliament elections in March this year, 70,000 young people aged 12-25 voted to elect their local MSYP. This itself demonstrates that young people, when given the chance to vote are passionate about having a voice in matters that have an effect on them not only at a local level but at a national level too