US News Plans for 16-year-olds in Wales to get the vote to take huge step forward

11:00  18 november  2019
11:00  18 november  2019 Source:   walesonline.co.uk

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All 16 - and 17- year olds in Wales will soon be able to vote in local elections, as part of a wider reform proposal that will also test new, innovative ways of voting . In November 2017, a private member’s bill — a piece of legislation not officially part of the government’s agenda — was put forward to lower the

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a couple of people that are sitting in a car posing for the camera: The Welsh Government will put forward legislation for teens to be allowed to vote in council elections © Getty Images The Welsh Government will put forward legislation for teens to be allowed to vote in council elections

Plans for 16-year-olds to get the vote in Wales in council elections will take a huge step forward today.

After months of discussions and debate, the Welsh Government will put forward a piece of legislation for teens to be allowed to vote in council elections. The next council election is due in 2022. The Welsh Government, run by Labour, is also expected to include an amendment as the Bill makes it way through the Senedd for prisoners serving four years or less to be able to vote in the same elections.

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A bill is being introduced that would give the vote to 16 - and 17- year - olds in many elections in Wales and empower local authorities to decide which The Labour-led Welsh government said the planned changes would be the biggest in the Welsh electoral system since the voting age was reduced to 18

16 - and 17- year - olds could get the vote in local elections in Wales . Swimming pools, supermarkets and train stations could become alternative polling Foreign citizens who normally live in Wales could be given the right to vote in council polls and plans to bring in proportional representation are also

Some prisoners, like those on remand, can already vote, but this would extend the right to those serving sentences in prison and, due to the proposed age change, in young offenders' institutes.

The Welsh parliament © Getty The Welsh parliament

What will the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill do in local elections?

  • Lower the voting age for 16 and 17-year-olds

  • More foreign citizens can vote; currently EU and Commonwealth but this would extend it to residents of all other countries

  • Candidates won't have to disclose their home addresses in public

  • Independent candidates would have to declare party allegiances

  • Tests on changing the date or places of voting

  • Allow each council to decide whether to use First Past the Post (FPTP) or Single Transferable Vote (STV)

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    Welsh government also plans to give local election votes to foreign nationals living in Wales . “I would like to see authorities in Wales take the lead and pilot a number of innovative voting methods, something put on hold at Sixteen and 17- year - olds can vote in Scottish elections, but the voting

    Sixteen and 17- year - olds look set to vote in council elections as part of the biggest changes to Wales ' voting system in 50 years. In Scotland, 16 and 17- year - olds are already able to vote in local and Scottish elections. It is estimated lowering the voting age to 16 would add around 75,000 people to

  • Make it easier for people to be included on the electoral register, by giving Electoral Registration Officers the power to automatically add people to the register without the need for them to apply

  • Enabling job sharing in cabinet positions, including the leader roll

  • Allow councillors to attend meetings remotely

  • Allow the voluntary merger of principal councils

Related: More than 100,000 apply to register to vote in UK in 48 hours

Giving the vote to teenagers was a recommendation of a panel of experts, chaired by Professor Laura McAllister. She admitted it was controversial, but said she believed it was one of the measures needed to "resuscitate our failing democracy". AMs have separately been looking at another bill which would also give teens the vote, but that's for Senedd elections.

The Welsh Government says the bill going forward today would mean around 75,000 young people would get the right to vote.

It says it will make it easier for people to "see, influence and get involved with the work of those who represent them" as well as remove some of the barriers to people standing for election.

Minister for housing and local government, Julie James, said: " We believe in strong local government. We want it to thrive, we want the people of Wales to feel well-represented and supported by modern public services, and we want the relationship between local government and the Welsh Government to be mature and focused on our shared agenda – delivering better public services for everyone, helping people who need support, when and where they need it most."

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