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Welsh 16 and 17-year-olds head to vote for first time in 'historic' election

4 May 2021, 18:26 | Updated: 4 May 2021, 19:43

People aged 16 and 17 will be able to vote in the Welsh elections for the very first time
People aged 16 and 17 will be able to vote in the Welsh elections for the very first time. Picture: Handouts
Peter Gillibrand

By Peter Gillibrand

Young people in Wales will join those in Scotland this Thursday as they vote in the Welsh Parliament election for the very first time.

The Welsh Assembly, or Senedd, passed a law back in November 2019 that would allow people over the age of 16 to participate in elections.

It is estimated to have given 70,000 teenagers the right to vote.

LBC has been speaking to three young people from across Wales to see what it means to them to be the first group of voters of their age to directly participate in democracy.

Unsurprisingly, coronavirus and education were the main topics.

Read more: Gyms and swimming pools reopen in Wales amid successful jab rollout

Read more: Covid-19 restrictions ease in Wales and Scotland

Read more: UK is 'no longer' in a pandemic, Welsh First Minister says

Poppy Stowell-Evans said she jumped for joy at being given the chance to vote
Poppy Stowell-Evans said she jumped for joy at being given the chance to vote. Picture: Handout

Poppy Stowell-Evans, 16, Newport

“When I found out that I could vote, I literally jumped for joy. It was such an amazing thing to happen," she said.

“I think 16 and 17-year-olds have proven that they’re politically engaged and that they want change to happen.

“The legislation, the acts, the discussions that politicians have. All of it influences our lives in a real way, and I think the pandemic’s proven that.

“It’s affecting our everyday lives… and without using our voice and without influencing that - it might not affect us in the way we want to. It might not be the change we want to see. So by having young people’s opinion, it makes sure we have some sort of control over our future - which I think is very necessary.

“A decision made by someone in the Senedd really impacts our everyday life, so I think it’s so important we vote and have our voice heard because this government is affecting us. So I think we need a say over the change we want to see.”

Rhodri Lewis, 17, said people his age will have a huge impact on the election
Rhodri Lewis, 17, said people his age will have a huge impact on the election. Picture: Handout

Rhodri Lewis, 17, Crymych, Pembrokeshire

“I know many of my friends will look forward to voting for the first time. It’s quite a big deal for a lot of them. But seeing the process myself, I see it as just another election," he told LBC.

“Politics is not straightforward - it’s a very complicated field… and I think young people have been put off by that.

“We’ve seen the effect that coronavirus has had, especially on young people, on education. I’ve certainly seen it myself, that’s why I’ve decided to vote. And many others will decide to vote. And we’ll use our vote on how we want to see Wales in the future.

"Certainly, 16 and 17-year-olds will have a huge impact on this election.”

Morgan Frazer, 17, said people his age getting the vote was long overdue
Morgan Frazer, 17, said people his age getting the vote was long overdue. Picture: Handout

Morgan Frazer, 17, Anglesey

“It’s massive really that 16 and 17-year-olds are finally given the right to vote in the Senedd elections. Although it does happen in various other countries… so although it’s historic and we should be thankful - it’s long overdue," he said.

“Devolution, education, healthcare, independence - those are the main areas I’ll be looking at.

“The Covid-19 pandemic and the various lockdowns… social inequality… and issues within current affairs have become more aware to people who may not be politically inclined, especially with the rise in activism through Instagram and Twitter and various social media sites.

“Everybody has their own values, a moral compass. It’s about seeing or believing in a party that shares those views. I think that’s the key.

"If all these young people have these strong, passionate views - find the party that has a parallel with those views. I think then people start understanding.”

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