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Lowering the voting age to 16


On 2 October 2018, the Assembly Commission announced its intention to introduce legislation to:

• change the name of the National Assembly for Wales,

• lower the voting age for Assembly elections to 16,

• amend the law relating to disqualification from being an Assembly Member,

• and make other changes to the Assembly’s electoral and internal arrangements.

The Assembly gave its approval to the Commission’s decision on 10 October 2018. The Bill will be called the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Bill.


A written statement from Elin Jones AM, Llywydd of the National Assembly for Wales published on 02 October 2018 stated:

"The Commission is grateful to all who continue to engage with us on these matters. We believe that lowering the voting age to 16 will give young people a stronger voice in the future of our nation, paving the way to improving the participation of our next generation in our democracy and our parliament as it enters its third decade of serving the people of Wales."

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Read the Llywydd’s Written Statement (2 October 2018)

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The Commission intends that the changes proposed by the Bill will be implemented by 2021.

 


The Commission’s decision was announced alongside the publication of a summary of the key findings of the its  public consultation, Creating a Parliament for Wales.  

The consultation, which closed on 6 April 2018, asked people in Wales to share their views on a range of proposals, including the recommendations of the independent Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform.  

The Panel, chaired by Professor Laura McAllister CBE, recommended in December 2017 that 16 and 17-year-olds should be given the right to vote in Assembly elections.  

More than 3,200 consultation responses were received. Respondents could choose to answer all questions, or just those of most interest to them.  

Of the 1,530 who responded to the voting age question, 59% agreed it should be lowered to 16 years old.

“Empowering young people to vote at 16 is a powerful statement from the Assembly that we value their views,” said Elin Jones AM, Llywydd of the National Assembly for Wales. 

"Votes at 16 will have to be accompanied by appropriate political and citizenship education and public awareness-raising to ensure young people are encouraged and supported to exercise their right to vote.”  

“We will work with the Welsh Government and other partners, including our own Youth Parliament to determine how best to meet this need.”

Once the Bill has been introduced, an Assembly committee will consider the proposals and any suggested amendments in detail before a final vote is put to all 60 Members. The Bill requires at least 40 members to vote in its favour to become law.

The Commission intends that the changes proposed by the Bill will be implemented by 2021.

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You can follow the progress of the Bill and of the Assembly Reform programme through our Assembly Reform hub or you can sign up to receive email updates on the Assembly Reform programme.


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