Younger vot­ers will ben­e­fit democ­racy

Western Mail - - WM2 | VIEWS OF WALES - Jess Blair Di­rec­tor of Elec­toral Re­form So­ci­ety Cymru

THIS week the Na­tional As­sem­bly took the pro­gres­sive de­ci­sion to leg­is­late on votes for 16 and 17-yearolds in fu­ture Senedd elec­tions.

By ex­tend­ing the fran­chise we will be re­vi­tal­is­ing democ­racy in Wales and em­pow­er­ing a whole new gen­er­a­tion of ac­tive cit­i­zens.

Not ev­ery­one shares this pos­i­tiv­ity. Mr CC Win­dos in his let­ter (“Low­er­ing voter age is just a gim­mick”, Oc­to­ber 11) states that young peo­ple “prob­a­bly know noth­ing of pol­i­tics”.

The Elec­toral Re­form So­ci­ety be­lieves ex­tend­ing the fran­chise should go hand-in-hand with im­proved po­lit­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion.

It’s why we are launch­ing the Our Voices Heard pro­ject in which we will ask young peo­ple how po­lit­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion in Wales can be im­proved. The re­sults will feed into cur­ricu­lum re­form.

Even with­out this work, our young peo­ple are far from ig­no­rant. Dur­ing the Scot­tish ref­er­en­dum cam­paign, in which 16 and 17-yearolds could vote, they ac­cessed more in­for­ma­tion from a wider va­ri­ety of sources than any other age-group. They also voted in large num­bers – 75% hav­ing their say.

When young peo­ple help build a deep and di­verse po­lit­i­cal de­bate, we all ben­e­fit.

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