Sixteen and 17-year-olds to vote in Wales local elections

27 January 2018, 18:16

Sixteen and 17-year-olds in Wales are to be given the right to vote in local council elections.

The idea is aimed at boosting participation following concerns that young people are becoming disengaged from the political process.

At a youth group in Cardiff there were mixed reactions to the plan, which is due to be formerly announced on Tuesday.

Politics student Thomas Greenfield, 17, said: "Education is something that we are not usually able to impact despite it being, for most young people, the main part of their life.

"To be able to impact it now, even on a local level... it's only a good thing."

But Tom Cove, 16, disagrees. He doesn't think 16-year-olds should be able to vote.

He said: "People are just not mature enough, I don't think. They're in the stage of life where they're still deciding things, personal things. So I don't think they're ready."

Younger voters were widely considered to have influenced the shock result of last year's snap election.

On the campaign trail, Jeremy Corbyn did his best to woo youngsters, taking selfies and using social media. He even gave a speech at Glastonbury Festival.

Similarly in 2015 so-called "Milifans" tried to bolster support for the then Labour Leader, Ed Miliband, on Twitter, by superimposing his head onto all sorts of action heroes, such as James Bond.

In Scotland 16-year-olds are already allowed to vote in all elections and with the Welsh government now following suit, many feel the law should be changed across the UK.

Shadow voter engagement minister Cat Smith said: "The Welsh Labour Government is leading the way by giving 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote in local elections in Wales.

"However, we are now in an inconsistent and unsustainable position where a 16-year-old living in Wales and Scotland can vote in local elections, yet they are denied the right to vote in UK general elections.

"The time has now come for the UK Government to extend the franchise to all 16 and 17-year-olds, and ensure equal voting rights across the United Kingdom."

The subject has been debated in the House of Commons in the past, but there are no plans for any changes in the near future.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: "The age of 18, not 16, is widely recognised as the age at which one becomes an adult.

"Full citizenship rights - from drinking, to betting, to voting - are gained at adulthood. The Government has no plans to lower the voting age."