Carmichael introduces ‘votes at 16’ motion
Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael, has said it is “unthinkable” that 16 and 17 year olds will be unable to vote in the 2020 General Election.
His comment came after he introduced legislation in the House of Commons to devolve responsibility for setting the voting age to the Scottish Parliament.
This was one of the commitments set out by the Smith Commission and has been moved forward to make sure Holyrood can enact legislation ahead of the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections and the 2017 local authority elections.
Speaking in the House of Commons this week Mr Carmichael, said: “My view is that there is every reason to believe that the tide has turned in favour votes at 16.
“When it comes to extending the franchise in this country, the liberal, progressive argument always wins in the end, and afterwards there is a consensus that it was the right thing to do.”
He also spoke of young people in the Northern Isles taking part in the referendum.
“One of the more positive memories that I will take from that campaign is of a packed meeting in Kirkwall town hall, which was addressed by me, by my noble friend Baroness Williams of Crosby, and by a 15-year-old Orcadian school pupil, Jack Norquoy, who was not even old enough to vote in the referendum.
“It was both humbling and inspirational to observe that level of engagement and participation. It is, indeed, that level of engagement and participation that has brought us to this point, and it is for that reason that I am immensely proud to invite the house to agree to the order.”
After the debate he said: “The referendum was an opportunity for young people to show why they deserved the vote and they seized it with both hands.
“Record turnouts and the role of young people in the yes and no campaigns showed us that the time is now for 16 and 17 year olds to get the vote.
“Last night’s [Monday’s] vote is the first part in that process. We brought forward the motion to enable the Scottish government to lower the voting age in time for the next Holyrood elections. This was part of the Smith recommendations and I am delighted that we have been able to not only keep our promise, we have been able to deliver it quicker than originally thought.
“I want to see the voting age lowered nationally and shall be making the case to my colleagues in government. It is unthinkable that by the time we come to an election in 2020 that we will not see that election on a franchise that includes 16 and 17-year-olds.”
Shetland MSYP Kaylee Mouat, said: “To have 16 and 17 year olds given the right to vote in Scottish elections is an immense achievement by everyone who has been involved and is a historical moment which no one will forget.
“This will empower young people to use their voice and know that their opinions matter.
“The recent independence referendum has demonstrated how engaged young people are in politics, illustrated through the very high turnout of 16 and 17-year-olds at polling stations throughout Scotland.
“These young people are ready to have their say and they deserve the vote.”
Looking ahead to the general election in 2020, she said it would be amazing for 16 and 17 year olds to have their say, and such an empowerment for young people.