News In Focus
Voting rights bill promised for early action
22 October 2012
A bill will soon be introduced at Holyrood to enable all 16 and 17 year olds to vote in the referendum on Scottish independence, First Minister Alex Salmond has confirmed.
Provision for the extended voting rights was included in the Edinburgh Agreement signed last week by Mr Salmond and Prime Minister David Cameron. As a result of the agreement, an order under s 30 of the Scotland Act 1998, transferring legal responsibility for the referendum to the Scottish Parliament, will shortly be considered by Holyrood.
Once that has happened, the Scottish Government will ask the Parliament to accelerate a bill paving the way for all 16 and 17 year olds to be included on the electoral roll in time for the referendum, so that the legislation is in place by the 2013 summer recess.
That will enable work to take place to include a canvass of 15 to 17 year-olds as part of the electoral canvass planned for 2013, from which the electoral roll for 2014 will be compiled.
Extending the electoral canvass to ensure that all 16 and 17 year-olds can be given the vote will involve Scottish electoral registration officers introducing software changes to create a young persons register.
The Scottish Government will work with electoral registration officers and others to develop the legislation and the practical arrangements to implement it.