Reducing voting age enhances long-term election participation in Scotland


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Europe UK (Commonwealth Union) – The question surrounding what age is considered adult has been debated across the world. In spite 18 being the age of adult in most parts of the world restrictions on certain factors even after the age of 18 remain, such as the age to purchase cigarettes being 21 even though 18 is officially considered adult and enforced in some countries.

A new report has however indicated that younger 1st time voters in Scotland keep the habit of voting in elections and take part with more numbers than older 1st time voters.

In the 2021 Holyrood elections, Individuals below 30 with the possibility to vote from age 16 went to the ballots in more numbers than those given the right to vote from age 18, according to the report.

Individuals who could vote at 16 or 17 years old had an increased chance to continue voting into their 20s, according to researchers.

The study conducted by researchers at the Universities of Edinburgh and Sheffield observed voting behavior from the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary elections to evaluate for the 1st time the long-term effects of Scotland reducing the voting age to 16 in 2014.

This adjustment was introduced for the 2014 independence referendum and which went further to Scottish local and parliamentary elections in 2015.

Overall, researchers state that the measure has had positive long-term results for turnout. The enhancement had no link to whether people cast their 1st vote as a 16- or 17-year-old in the independence referendum or in later elections.

Dr Jan Eichhorn, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Social and Political Science, lead author of the study says “Allowing 16- and 17-year olds to vote was a good decision taken by the Scottish Parliament. Many younger first-time voters retain a habit of voting and participate in greater numbers than older first-time voters. The findings strengthen the case for enfranchising younger voters across the UK to improve long term voting behaviour. But more can be done. Making sure all young people receive great civic education that includes learning how to discuss political issues well, could help reduce persistent social inequalities in turnout.”


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