Miliband vows to lower voting age

Published: Monday 8th December 2014 by The News Editor

Comments (1)

Sixteen and 17-year-olds would get the vote in UK elections from as early as 2016 under Labour proposals, Ed Miliband said.

The Opposition leader promised to pass legislation to extend the franchise to 1.5 million more teenagers in the first session of the next parliament.

And he said schools and colleges would be required to help reverse a slump in the numbers of young people registered to vote.

Mr Miliband set out the timetable as he became the latest politician to face questions from a young audience at a Leaders Live event – organised by voter engagement group Bite the Ballot and streamed by YouTube and ITV News.

Pressure to lower the voting age across the UK has become stronger after 16 and 17-year-olds were allowed to take part in the Scottish independence referendum.

Electoral law is one area due to be devolved to the Scottish Government as part of an extended devolution deal and Mr Miliband urged the UK Government to grant the freedom for it to be changed north of the border in time for the 2016 elections to the Scottish Parliament.

There are also elections due to the Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies and Labour said it would work with both to make the change.

Other elections in May 2016 include those for the London Mayor and Assembly and in many local authorities.

Mr Miliband said: “Britain will only succeed as a country if we give our young people the chance to fulfil their potential and play their part.

“And when decisions are being taken which affect their future, a democratic country like ours should ensure that they have their voice heard.

“Too many young people are turning their backs on politics which is bad for our country and bad for them too.

“That’s because too often young people don’t get a look-in with politicians who know they can’t vote – or assume that they won’t vote.

“The measures we will introduce in our first year of government represent the greatest extension of the franchise in my lifetime.”

Mr Miliband said he wanted to see the wide implementation of the schools initiative which has successfully increased the numbers of young people registered to vote by getting institutions to submit details of year groups as a block.

First-time voters, students and those leaving home are among groups who appeared to have stopped signing up for a vote since the rules were changed to require each individual to be registered individually rather than as part of a household.

Up to a million could be missing out eventually if the decline was not halted, Labour said, with tens of thousands disappearing from registers in some large cities.

“It is not enough just to give young people the right to vote,” Mr Miliband said.

“We must do everything we can to ensure they have the chance to exercise it.

“With more and more young people heading off to study or moving home, it is vital that new rules on electoral registration do not deter them getting the chance to vote.”

Published: Monday 8th December 2014 by The News Editor

Comments (1)
  • bailey

    another hair brained scheme from milliband has he not got anything more cruicial to sort out no wonder labour is lagging behind he wants to get immigration sorted out before we totally turn into a foreign land

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