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Votes at 16 in Scotland 2014-2021

Young people aged 16 and 17 years have been allowed to vote in Scottish and local elections for several years now. In 2014 Scottish 16- and 17- year-olds were included in the franchise for Scotland’s referendum on independence first, and shortly after for all Scottish elections. Since then, 16- and 17-year-olds have been allowed to vote in the 2016 and 2021 Scottish Parliament elections and the 2017 Scottish local council elections, but not in UK-wide elections for which the franchise remains a matter reserved to the UK parliament at Westminster. This report seeks to explore the longer-term outcomes of Votes-at-16 for young people who benefited from the reform of the franchise in Scotland.

Using original survey data collected among young people in Scotland in the context of the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections, this report examines how different cohorts of young people aged between 16 to 31 years engage in politics. The analysis distinguishes those who were first enfranchised at age 16 or 17 from those who were aged 18 years or older when they were allowed to vote for the first time.

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