Teenagers as young as 16 were officially be granted the right to vote for Welsh Assembly elections today, after the Senedd and Elections Act received Royal Assent.
This legislation will be entered onto the statute book in Wales, following a ceremony this afternoon – marking the biggest change to the franchise in Wales since the reduction of the voting age from 21 to 18 in 1969.
It follows campaigning from ERS Cymru and a coalition of youth and civil society campaigners.
Welsh local government elections
A separate piece of legislation is currently progressing through the Senedd on extending the right to vote for 16- and 17-year olds for the next Welsh local government elections, due to take place in 2022.
The Electoral Reform Society have said this is a ‘momentous day in the campaign for a fairer franchise’, with Wales joining Scotland in introducing votes at 16/17. 16 and 17 year olds can also vote in Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.
Jess Blair, Director of ERS Cymru said:
“This is a real step forward for young people across Wales, and a real campaign victory.
“16 and 17 year olds will now rightly have a say over critical issues that affect their future, such as health, education and the economy.
“As we’ve already seen in Scotland, this is a boost for our democracy as a whole – strengthening citizenship and boosting political engagement.”
A vote on Brexit
Last year John McDonnell outlined plans to give 16-year-olds a vote in a second Brexit referendum.
“The most important thing for 16-year-olds is – let’s give them the vote, let’s trust them,” he said.
Labour have previously said in their 2017 election manifesto that they would “reduce the voting age to 16” from 18 – but with no reference to a second referendum.