Posted: Thu 28th Nov 2019

New bill gives 16 and 17 year olds right to vote in next Welsh General Election

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Nov 28th, 2019

16 and 17 year olds will be able to vote for the first time at the Welsh General Election in 2021, as part of the biggest changes to the democratic process in Wales in half a century.

The name of the National Assembly is also changing to Senedd Cymru/Welsh Parliament

Assembly Members voted in favour of historic legislation on Wednesday, in the final phase of the Senedd and Elections Bill, which will implement the largest franchise extension in Wales since 1969.

It means that 16 and 17 year olds will – for the first time – have influence in choosing the Members who will represent them in the next Assembly and give them a voice over the decisions that will define their future.

The last time the voting age was lowered, from 21 to 18, was in the Representation of the People Act in 1969.

Following the vote, Alyn and Deeside AM Jack Sargeant said:

“I am pleased that today’s historic decision in allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote has passed in the Senedd.

Our younger generation, have their own valid opinions and deserve a platform in which their voice can be heard.

This is about them having a say in electing Members that shape the services which they use on a daily basis.”

The main changes in the Bill include:

  • Lower the voting age to 16.
  • The new official name of Senedd Cymru / Welsh Parliament.
  • Giving the vote to eligible foreign nationals.
  • Change the law so that most disqualifications prohibit a person from taking up a seat in the Assembly but not from standing for election, thereby allowing more people to stand for election.
  • To make the Electoral Commission funded by and accountable to the Assembly for Welsh elections.

The Senedd and Elections Bill is the first part of the Assembly’s Reform programme and is based on the recommendations made in the independent report of the Assembly’s Expert Reform Panel.

The panel was chaired by Professor Laura McAllister, who said in reaction to the vote;

“Today we have witnessed a monumental step forward on a historic day for Wales’ democratic process.

By lowering the voting age for the Welsh General Elections in 2021, 16 and 17 year olds have been empowered to vote for the first time in Wales.”

Welsh Conservative AM, Andrew RT Davies was left unhappy with Wednesday’s vote on the bill which will now allow eligible foreign nationals to vote in the 2021 Welsh General Election. he said:

“The left-wing political establishment of Labour and Plaid Cymru has today passed a stitch-up job in the National Assembly in a blatant attempt to fix the voting system, with foreign nationals now allowed to vote in Welsh elections.

“This has been done with without any evidence or scrutiny behind it and drives a coach and horses through our ‘constitution’ here in Wales, without permission from the Welsh public and forcing further ridicule on the Assembly.

“Combined with votes at 16 and the little to no political education that currently exists for students in this country we are now left with an ridiculous electorate system, with Labour and Plaid Cymru clearly determined to drive a wedge between the Assembly and the people it purports to represent.”

The new legislation will be implemented following Royal Assent in January 2020.

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