Scotland will be viewed as a world leader by fully engaging and empowering its 16 and 17 year olds as fully franchised citizens active in the development of a fairer, more equal and more prosperous country.
The past few months have clearly marked a new era of democratic engagement. The Independence Referendum engaged young people in the political landscape in an unprecedented way. Over 100,000 16 and 17 year olds registered to vote. Evidence shows they were amongst the most informed, engaged and questioning voters, carrying out their own research and using multiple sources in order to come to their own personal decision. Many young individuals dedicated countless hours to campaign for both sides. On September 18th 2014, queues of young people entered polling stations for the first time in order to have their say on Scotland’s future, valuing that responsibility and casting their vote.
Aberlour, as part of an Alliance of Scottish Youth Charities, representing 1.2 million young people, are united in our belief that we cannot let young people down and must continue to fully engage them in the democratic process. We as a country need to capture this emergent enthusiasm for the democratic process. We need to stimulate their ongoing involvement and we need to value their contribution.
We are therefore calling on Lord Smith to recommend a mechanism for the franchise for all future elections in Scotland to be extended to 16 and 17 year olds.
The Smith Commission should build in enfranchisement of our young people as a key principle and a core value in a fully engaged and effective devolved administration. This ground-breaking enfranchisement of young people will ensure their voices are heard now and for generations to come.
Aberlour as a national third sector organisations working with young people in communities across Scotland, stand ready to support them.
Aberlour’s Chief Executive, SallyAnn Kelly said; “As a society we believe that our 16 and 17 years olds have the maturity to decide to leave home