Voting in Wales could be extended to under 18s

18 July 2017, 09:30

Cross on ballot paper

Extending the vote to 16 and 17 year olds, electronic voting and proportional representation are just some of the proposals announced today as part of a major shake-up of council elections in Wales.

The proposals, which form part of a 12 week consultation on electoral reform, are designed to make it easier to vote and easier to be entitled to vote. If enacted, they would amount to the biggest change to the Welsh electoral system since 1970 - when the voting age was lowered to 18.

Under proposals set out in the consultation, 16 and 17 year olds in Wales would be given the right to vote in council elections, under powers transferred to the National Assembly for Wales under the Wales Act.

The consultation also looks ahead to when the UK is due to leave the EU in 2019 and asks whether all foreign citizens normally resident in Wales should have the right to vote in local elections.

Different options to make it easier for people to vote and modernising the voting system are also laid out in the consultation. These include electronic voting at polling stations and remotely, mobile polling stations and voting at places other than polling stations such as supermarkets, local libraries, leisure centres and railway stations.

The consultation also asks whether voting could take place on other days of the week rather than just Thursdays.

Changes would also be made to the voting system itself, with each council being given the option of using a First-Past-the-Post or Single Transferable Vote system. Councils would have to consult with local residents before deciding which system to use.

Mark Drakeford said:

“Today I’m announcing a Bill and a wholesale package of reforms that will change the way councils work and the way they are elected. We want to make it easier to vote and easier to be entitled to vote.

“There’s no reason why 16 and 17 year olds can marry, pay taxes and join the army but can’t vote in our elections. There’s no reason why, in the twenty-first century, we can carry out all sorts of daily transactions online but can’t, as of yet, vote online. That’s why we’re setting out a number of different ideas to modernise the electoral system and putting out a call for the public to share their ideas with us too.”

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