6 Votes at 16
As part of an attempt to interest more young people in politics, the franchise was extended in 2019. The Senedd and Elections (Wales) Act granted 16- and 17-year-olds in Wales the right to vote in Senedd elections – although they have to be 18 to vote in local government elections, police and crime commissioner elections and UK parliament elections. It is believed the change will enfranchise up to 70,000 young people in Wales.
Do you believe giving 16- and 17-year-olds the vote will drive up turnout in future elections?
The number of 16- and 17-year-olds eligible to vote in an election is relatively small – 70,000 or 3% of the Welsh electorate. Those who oppose giving young people the vote often claim that this group is not interested in politics and would bring down turnout rates even further. The counter argument to this is that giving the vote to younger people could lead to lifelong engagement in politics. This is borne out in data from Austria, where the voting age was lowered in 2007. There is also some evidence to suggest that 16- and 17-year-olds turn out to vote more than 18 to 24-year-olds, and access a wider range of materials to inform their preference.