Scottish Independence: Warning that some 16-year-olds may miss out on referendum vote

Scottish Parliament. Picture: TSPL
Scottish Parliament. Picture: TSPL
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THE Electoral Reform Society has called on the Scottish Government to publish the legislation it intends to use to give a referendum vote to 16 and 17-year-olds amid fears that some may miss out on voting.

• ERS wants assurances law will allow 16-17-year-olds to vote in time for referendum.

• It is “regrettable” that voters will not be given DevoMax option.

In a submission to the Scottish Parliament’s Referendum committee, the ERS says it has “concerns” about how extending the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds might be achieved.

The Society points out that a household canvass due in early 2014 is the ideal mechanism to produce a complete and accurate register.

But it warns that if the canvass is not available until April 2014, then the time taken to organise the referendum register might have an affect on the timing of the referendum planned for the autumn.

The Edinburgh Agreement specified that the referendum must be conducted before the end of 2014.

“Having tentatively agree that 16 and 17-year-olds can vote in this referendum, then not allowing them to do so because of such a timing restriction is an outcome which should be avoided,” the ERS submission said.


The ERS states that equal spending limits for both sides are important to ensure a level playing field and would prevent the result being “bought”.

ERS Scotland would recommend allowing up to £750,000 for lead organisations while political parties themselves would be limited to £250,000.

The Electoral Commission made recommendations that the limits should be slightly higher – and closer to the £1.5m available to parties for campaigning purposes at Scottish Parliamentary elections.

The ERS also said it was “regrettable” that there was no DevoMax option included on the single question ballot.