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Kingston Council backs votes at 16

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Kingston Council has pledged its support in extending the electoral voting age to 16 and 17 to allow more young people to be a part of the democratic process.

The motion that was approved at the council’s Community Engagement Committee this week (19 September), means that Kingston will join 31 other boroughs who have supported lowering the voting age in England, in a bid to modernise elections.

Cllr Sam Foulder-Hughes, who presented the motion and has been backing the campaign, said: 

"I am really pleased that Kingston Council is now committed to supporting the British Youth Council's campaign on Votes at 16. I'm proud to be one of three councillors under the age of 25 and feel it is our duty to open up the council to everyone no matter what their age. I hope that young people in the borough take this as a symbol of our commitment to listen to them.”

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Liz Green, has committed to writing to the British Youth Council, local Members of Parliament and the Mayor of London, stating the council’s support for the votes at 16 campaign. She will also write to the Prime Minister and the Minister for Cabinet Office to consider extending the voting age to 16 and 17 for local government and devolved elections and referendums in England. Cllr Green will also request a review of the wider franchise for all elections and referendums in the UK.

Using population estimates and current electoral registration rates for Kingston, it is estimated that there are currently 2,978 16 and 17 year olds within the borough who would be eligible to vote if the age was reduced to 16. In England, there are an estimated 1,122,679.

In England, Northern Ireland and Wales, the minimum voting age for all elections and referenda remains 18. In Scotland, the age has been extended to 16 and 17 year olds for elections to the Scottish Parliament and Scottish local elections. The National Assembly for Wales has recommended that voting is extended to 16 and 17 year olds to elections for the Welsh Assembly and Welsh local elections from 2021.