Wednesday, 29 February 2012

SNP Welcome Further Support For Votes At 16

Humza Yousaf MSP has welcomed strong support for the extension of voting rights to 16 and 17 year olds from the chief executive of the Young Scot organisation.

Writing in Third Force News, Louise MacDonald says:

"The narrative seems to be taking hold that those in favour of the IndyRef believe including 16 and 17 year-olds will boost their vote, because young people will be more likely to vote “Yes” to independence.... that argument is another disservice to democracy – the principle must be whether young people should have a democratic vote in the decisions that affect them now and in the years to come. It is not “we’ll only let them vote if we can predict which way they will go” – imagine disenfranchising any other group in society on that basis?"

Mr Yousaf, the SNP's youngest MSP, said:

"Louise MacDonald's case in support of enfranchising 16 and 17 year olds is unanswerable. As she points out, 16 and 17 year olds are not the citizens of tomorrow, they are the citizens of today - and they deserve have their say on the future of their country.

"The arguments of those who would continue to deny 16 and 17 year olds the vote are undemocratic, patronising and discriminatory. They make baseless assumptions about the ability of young people to participate in the democratic process and - as Louise MacDonald points out - seem to be driven more by suppositions about how young people will vote, rather than any principled position on whether they should be able to vote.

"The claim by some who have previously supported votes at 16 - such as Scottish Secretary Michael Moore - that 16 and 17 year olds should only be allowed to vote in the referendum if they can vote in all elections is also hypocritical nonsense. If Michael Moore genuinely supported young people's democratic rights, he would take any opportunity to advance them - not just when he thinks it suits him.

"The SNP has long supported the principle of votes at 16 and where it has the power to do so - such as for elections to health boards and the Crofting Commission - the Scottish government has already ensured that they have that right. The other parties should listen to organisations such as Young Scot and let Scotland's young citizens have their say on Scotland's future."
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