Teenagers must ex­er­cise their right to vote at elec­tion

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - COMMUNITY - Do­minic Grieve MP for Bea­cons­field

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.

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