Entirely qualified to vote (Kaylee Mouat and Catherine Hannah)

As members of the Scottish Youth Parliament for Shetland we would like to thank The Shetland Times, MP Alistair Carmichael, MSP Tavish Scott and SIC political leader Gary Robinson for backing our ongoing campaign to extend the franchise to enable votes at 16 in all elections.

A special mention must go to all 16 and 17-year-olds who turned out to vote on 18th September. You have ensured that votes at 16 is at the forefront of ongoing discussions at both Holyrood and Westminster.

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.

The Scottish Youth Parliament works on the core principle that young people should be involved in making every decision that affects them and we work tirelessly to make sure the politicians listen to what young people have to say.

We’ve seen firsthand from 16 and 17-year-olds that they’re ready to vote, desperate to vote and entirely qualified to vote.

As MSYPs for Shetland we would encourage any individual, group or organisation to sign up as an official supporter of the Votes at 16 campaign at www.votesat16.org.

Supporters of the campaign believe we are ready for votes at 16 because it will:
• Engage 16 and 17-year-olds at the ballot who hold may responsibilities in our society;
• Empower 16 and 17-year-olds, through a democratic right, to influence decisions that will define their future;
• Inspire young people to get involved in our democracy.

During the next few months we will continue to engage with young people across Shetland to consult with them and represent their views at the Scottish Youth Parliament.

Kaylee Mouat and Catherine Hannah
MSYPs for Shetland
c/o Shetland Youth Services
Islesburgh Complex,


Add Your Comment
  • Suzy Jolly

    • September 30th, 2014 16:03


    Either change the age of adulthood from 18 to 16 and give 16 year olds the right to vote or don’t. 16 year olds are either children or adults, make your minds up.

    • Rachel Buchan

      • October 5th, 2014 0:19

      16 year olds are classed as adults in Scotland.

      • Suzy Jolly

        • October 6th, 2014 13:30

        Not strictly true IMHO and rather misleading. The Age of Legal Capacity (Scotland) Act 1991 treats 16 and 17 year olds differently to those aged 18 and above. For example, whilst you can sign a legal document, there is a proviso within the Act that you are protected from making bad decisions and a Court can review such legal agreements.

        There are many laws that treat 16 year olds differently; for example, you can’t buy a pint of lager, and to buy adult material or watch it, you still have to be 18. Then there’s the difference in the minimum wage, which appears to be somewhat ageist to a group of people. I did try to ascertain if the rate of tax payable was different for the under 18s (yonks ago, I think it used to be) but got lost in a plethora of information on HMRC and couldn’t find a straightforward answer!

        So whilst special measures are in place to protect 16-17 year olds, I wouldn’t give them the right to vote.

      • Robert Duncan

        • October 7th, 2014 10:08

        The lowered minimum wage is supposed to encourage employers to take on new, less experienced employees, so whilst not exactly ideal is not entirely ageist.

        Sixteen and seventeen year olds pay the same tax as anybody else earning the same wage would pay. It is usually unlikely that they will earn enough to pay significant (or any) tax, but they are still required to pay as others do if they are earning above the threshold.

  • joe johnson

    • September 30th, 2014 22:06

    Yes. 16-17 year olds should be allowed to vote. As we have seen in this referendum, they have proven they are ready and fully qualified to vote. Young people do take an interest in politics as well. Proud of our Scottish youth, they have set the example and Westminster should take note of this and lower the voting age.

    • Steven Jarmson

      • October 3rd, 2014 22:48

      What are these “qualifications” you speak of?
      The ability to turn up on a set date and mark an “X” in one box, keeping within the lines.
      If this I what you call “qualified,” maybe we should be asking murder children to vote!!
      16 and 17 year olds are classed as children by law. Children aren’t asked to run a household never mind a country!!!
      Ridiculous notion. The only reason children were given the vote by the divisive SNP was just distract from their poor attempts to fool people into thinking independence”light” was a good idea.

      • Steven Jarmson

        • October 3rd, 2014 22:49

        That should say “nursery” not murder!!
        Spell correct thing went wonky on my phone.

      • Robert Duncan

        • October 6th, 2014 15:25

        Sixteen and seventeen year olds are not – in Scots Law – considered to be children.


        “The Age of Legal Capacity (Scotland) Act 1991 (c.50) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom applicable only in Scotland which replaced the pre-existing rule of pupillage and minority with a simpler rule that a person has full legal capacity at the age of 16.”

  • David Spence

    • October 5th, 2014 14:18

    But Steven, if 16 and 17 year old’s can marry, have a family, work and pay taxes, go into the military or police force, why shouldn’t they be allowed to vote in our democracy? Their contribution is just as important and valid as anybody else who is older.

    I would also think, based on the referendum, that young people can get more engaged in politics and the community instead of being stereo-typed as layabouts, being branded criminals or having no responsibility despite my previous comments.

    I think the whole idea of getting more of the community involved in politics or engaging in debate within Councils/Local Authorities and being pro-active can only be a positive sign that we, as a society, can acknowledge their contribution and maybe this may, long term, change the general impression people get of the youth of today………….one small step can lead to a greater and better journey.

    • Steven Jarmson

      • October 6th, 2014 13:39

      I never said I agree that you should be allowed to join the army at 16, nor do I agree that you should be allowed to marry at 16 and I also think under 18’s should be out side of general tax.
      I do think however that more needs to be done to include younger people in politics.
      Politics should be inclusive but to be inclusive doesn’t mean you need to have the right to vote.
      Sticking a cross on a piece of paper every now and then doesn’t empower anyone, regardless of age.

      • Brian Cole

        • October 7th, 2014 17:06

        Struth – can you imagine what would happen if under 18s were exempt from tax ?

        “Well Mr Client as a legitimate tax saving scheme why don’t you employ your under age child and pay him what you would have paid yourself. “

  • Sandy McDonald

    • October 5th, 2014 23:12

    I agree with David, if a 16 year old can vote in something as important as a referendum on independence it would be laughable not to think they can vote in local council elections and general elections. Why be allowed to go off to fight in the middle east for a twit you didn’t have chance to vote for/against?


Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to editorial@shetlandtimes.co.uk for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.