Sixteen and 17-year-olds will officially be granted the right to vote in National Assembly and council elections in Wales, after the Senedd and Elections Act received Royal Assent today (Wednesday, January 15).
The Senedd and Elections Bill was passed by Assembly Members in November last year. Under the new law, the Welsh Assembly will also be renamed Senedd Cymru/Welsh Parliament.
The act will come into effect in May.
It is the biggest change to the franchise in Wales since the reduction of the voting age from 21 to 18 in 1969.
The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) described the approval of the bill as a “momentous day in the campaign for a fairer franchise”, with Wales joining Scotland in introducing votes at 16.
Jess Blair, Director of ERS Cymru said: “This is a real step forward for young people across Wales, and a real campaign victory.
“Sixteen and 17-year-olds will now rightly have a say over critical issues that affect their future, such as health, education and the economy.
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“As we’ve already seen in Scotland, this is a boost for our democracy as a whole – strengthening citizenship and boosting political engagement.”
She added: “These changes send a decisive signal that 20 years after devolution, Wales now has significant powers to do things differently and change the way elections work.
“Unfortunately, a generation of young people in England and Northern Ireland will now be left behind, while Scotland and Wales make major strides in strengthening democracy.”