TEENAGE TICKS; Youth groups unite to demand votes in elections for 16 and 17-year-olds.
SCOTS aged 16 and 17 should be given the vote in all future elections, leading youth groups urge today.
An alliance of the biggest youth organisations in the country are calling for young people to be given a permanent say in politics after the success of their participation in the Scottish referendum.
Organisations from Barnardo's to the Girl Guides want the Smith Commission on devolution to make sure that teenagers have the franchise in all future local and national elections.
The Scottish Youth Charities, representing 1.1million young people, are united in the belief that young people must continue to fully engage in the democratic process.
All-party talks on what powers to transfer to the Scottish Parliament are set to recommend that the responsibility for elections be transferred to Holyrood.
And all Scots parties except the Conservatives have pledged to extend the vote to 16-yearolds in the future.
Young Scot chief executive Louise Macdonald said that the involvement of young people in the referendum campaign "put to bed the myth" that they are not interested in politics.
She said: "Young people, as shown throughout the debate, are leading the future of Scotland right now.
"The huge level of engagement in the independence referendum vindicates all those who have campaigned for the extension of the franchise to 16 and 17-yearolds.
"The truth about Scotland's young people is that they are switched on, engaged and passionate about the difference they can make to their local communities and to tackling local and national issues."
Louise Cameron, the chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, said the referendum proved young people took the right to vote seriously.
She said: "Over 80 per cent of young people registered to vote, and we have earned an extension of the voting age to all elections."
"I urge Lord Smith, the Prime Minister and the UK Government to look to our experience in Scotland when considering a new devolution settlement for Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. The ability to lower the voting age to 16 for all Scottish elections should be part of this settlement."
The alliance of youth charities have signed a statement calling on the Smith Commission to ensure that votes for 16-year-olds are enshrined in the new devolution package.
It reads: "The Commission should build in enfranchisement of young people as a key principle and a core value in a devolved administration.
"This ground-breaking enfranchisement of young people will ensure their voices are heard now and for generations to come. We, as national third sector organisations working with young people, stand ready to support them.
CASE STUDY 1 - IT IS A GREAT IDEA TO GET US INVOLVED IN THE BIG ISSUES AND DEBATES CASE STUDY 1 - IT IS A GREAT IDEA TO GET US INVOLVED IN THE BIG ISSUES AND DEBATES TEENAGER Luke Smith, from Shetland, is in his last year at Lerwick High School and wants to come back home to work in the oil and gas industry after he has completed his academic studies on the mainland.
He voted for the first time in the referendum and, as he will turn 18 in January, he will also be able to vote in May's general election.
Luke said: "It was actually a really good experience to feel part of it and being involved in the conversation that was taking place.
"The debate was going for quite a long time in the school and we spoke a lot about the pros and cons of independence and had a mock referendum. We had lots of information to help us make a decision.
"It was a bit of everything. Family played a factor, we never disagreed but all influenced each other. The television gave good information as well, as did friends.
"I believe it was a brilliant idea to have young people voting in the referendum. It definitely shows that young people do get engaged in the debate on the economy and politics and that we were not being ignored.
"It will be us who will live with the outcome of elections after all. I really liked taking part in the referendum. It was a privilege to vote and I'm really happy about not being ignored."
CASE STUDY 2 IT WOULD BE A SHAME IF WE LOST INTEREST ABBIE Wilson is a dynamic volunteer for Young Scot.
The 15-year-old, from Livingston, is taking part in the Youth Commission on Smoking Prevention and chairs a Young Scot panel that will offer young people funding to get their own projects off the ground.
Abbie said: "I see young people who do inspiring things all the time and it's not right that they don't get a say in how our country should be run.
"Through the Youth Commission on Smoking Prevention and other campaigns, I've seen young people help shape and change legislation when their views are heard.
"You can get married have children, join the Army, but are not able to vote. Every young person got engaged in the referendum campaign. People showed great enthusiasm for politics and it would be such a shame if it simmered out.
"Everyone should get a chance to engage with politics. We've got an engaged generation just now and we shouldn't let that fade away."
AMBASSADOR Abbie, 15
DEBAT AT A E Teen Luke
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|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Oct 13, 2014|
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