Latest Public Sector News

29.01.18

Wales to extend council votes to 16 and 17-year-olds

The Welsh Government has revealed plans to extend voting powers in council elections to 16- and 17-year-olds.

Following a period of consultation, the National Assembly has decided to put forward proposals which would see younger people and foreign nationals legally resident in Wales able to vote in local authority elections.

Welsh cabinet secretary for local government and public services, Alun Davies, said councils should begin trialling new voting methods alongside the proposals, such as remote digital voting, mobile polling stations, and voting at popular places like supermarkets and leisure centres.

“I am concerned we are still seeing far too many people, particularly young people, disengaged from the political process,” Davies said.

“There are many reasons for this but we must do more to make the process more attractive, welcoming and transparent. The proposals we’re announcing this week will, we hope, help increase participation and improve the democratic process for everyone in Wales.”

To ensure that people have a clear choice, councils would have to post policy statements from the candidates online and all those standing would have to declare any party affiliation.

Jessica Blair, director of the Electoral Reform Society Cymru, said: “We are delighted to see the Welsh Government bringing forward these innovative ideas to modernise our democracy. It is an opportunity for Wales to lead the way in creating a political system that works for everybody and it is particularly pertinent as we recognise the centenary of the first women getting the vote.

“Last year our Missing Voices project, in which we talked about politics and voting with nearly 1,000 people across Wales, revealed an appetite for doing things differently. We believe these recommendations are the first step in making that happen.”

The news follows the announcement of the first new tax measures from the National Assembly in 800 years, agreed last week by the UK and Welsh governments.

The move is part of plans to devolve more power to Wales, allowing the Assembly more control over national issues.

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