Teenagers must exercise their right to vote at election
SINCE I am writing this article at the turn of the year, the schools are on holiday. However, as I regularly visit schools during term time, when I do make some of those visits in the New Year I am sure that I am going to get many questions from pupils who could be about to cast their first vote in the general election this year.
Since we now have an Act of Parliament which established a five-year term for parliament, there will probably inevitably be pupils who miss out on voting because they won’t be 18 until after the first week in May, or later in the year.
It will be a disappointment to some who are eager to cast their vote for the first time.
I am also aware now that, during 2014, some under-18s have had the chance to vote under the terms of the referendum in Scotland.
There were more than 120,000 16 and 17 year-olds who were registered to vote.
Following the talks between the UK and the Scottish governments, there are now proposals to lower the voting age in Scotland for elections to the Scottish parliament and to local authorities.
Whether there will be similar calls for a change to the voting age in other parts of the UK, in the future, it is hard to predict.
The one message that I always want to pass on to young people is that it is important that everyone exercises the right to vote, because it was often hard won.
It is less than a century since all adult women were entitled to vote, for instance.
If we exercise our right to vote, we safeguard democracy.