Council unanimously backs reducing the voting age
The Council is also backing Highland Youth Voice’s “Votes@16” campaign which calls for 16 and 17 year olds to get the vote.
Councillor Richard Laird and Councillor Linda Munro, the Council’s Young People’s Champion, presented the motion seeking the Council’s support to engage, empower and inspire young people in the democratic system.
Ainya Taylor, Highland Youth Convener, also addressed the meeting. She said: "Over 1.5 million 16 and 17 year olds are currently denied the vote in the UK. For years we have been denied the opportunity to have our say. Now the case for lowering the voting age is stronger than ever.
“The best way to influence change is through the ballot box. I am sure most of you are aware of the key arguments for votes at 16 so I will just touch on them briefly.
- you can sign up for the armed forces, but can't vote on who controls defence policy
- you can leave school and get a job, but can't vote on who controls education and employment issues
- you can be taxed at 16, but can't vote. There should be no taxation without representation!
- you can get married at 16, but aren't considered mature enough to vote
- you can drive a car before you're 18 but aren't considered responsible enough to vote.
“It is clear that young people are interested in politics. I have been heavily involved in youth politics for several years and am very passionate, as are many other young people in Highland. For the past year I have paid taxes and started learning to drive. I believe I deserve the right to vote and to make changes to my community.
“The Highland Council recognised the importance of young people in local communities and is actively encouraging 16 year olds to attend, vote and stand for community councils.
“Highland has a proud history of giving young people a voice. It is important that we keep young people in the Highlands and by supporting this motion Highland will again be leading the way in recognising the importance of young people in our society.
“The voice of young people is a key part of our community. I encourage you all to vote in favour of this motion and support the young people of Highlands to make this vital step forward in democracy.”