Guest bloggers Jack and Andrew write about the importance of registering to vote in May’s Scottish council elections.
Scotland has made great progress in getting young people engaged in politics. The upcoming council elections, May 4th, will be the first of their kind to allow young people of the ages 16 and 17 to have their say. We think that it is important to use this newly found opportunity and follow the rest of the modern world in representing young people. Currently, as a 16 year old living in Scotland, we are allowed to buy a house, get married and pretty much settle down and live our lives from now. So, it only makes sense that we are able to have a say in council elections. Up until now, this has not been the case.
As this is the first chance young people have been given to vote, we feel it is crucial to register to vote well in advance of the upcoming council election to ensure we are not denied the opportunity on the 4th of May. Every time there is an election, many people have their votes stripped from them as they as they have failed to register. We refuse to be part of that group. Young people have to step up and prove to the rest of the country that it was the correct decision to give us the vote.
Recently, we had a workshop run by Vibrant Communities informing our school, along with many others, about the importance of voting. This is good to see from our perspective ,as previously young people have failed to be informed. Our older siblings were deprived of the opportunity at this pivotal age and of the tools that we were given during this workshop highlighted the importance of using it.
From this workshop, we learned the importance of registering prior to the vote and designed our perfect candidate. We chose the gender, age and party name for our candidate. After this, we chose three policies which we felt were highly important, and were hypothetically given £250,000 to spend how we liked in our local council. After this, we selected a member of our team to present our newly made party. As individuals, votes were cast privately, as they will be on the 4th of May. This experience allowed us to understand the voting process involved in selecting a candidate for our local council.
This means on our big day, we will be equipped with the knowledge of how to make the best of our newly found right, reducing our chance of being included in the group of people whose votes are discarded due to their lack of knowledge of voting. This experience makes us more likely to get involved in future elections, demonstrating what we already know – we deserve to vote.
This vote will directly affect the young people of Scotland in the near future, so it is vitally important to snatch this opportunity whilst we have it. Education is a major part of many political parties’ manifestos and so, as people experiencing this fundamental part of life first hand, surely we should have some control of what we want from our education?
And when we vote, we will not just randomly choose a candidate; we each have our own views on what makes a good candidate. Personally, we feel a candidate who demonstrates a high level of confidence, motivation and determination to meet the demands and needs of all generations is desirable to us. Though that is our view, and many other teenagers have many other views, each of which is different – but none of which should be considered wrong.
In the modern world, gender and age are becoming increasingly less important to voters, as is the case for us. Often categorised as immature, innocent and incapable of making an effective decision – young people are ready to prove their worth on the voting scene. Welcome to the new world.
The deadline for registering to vote in the Scottish council elections is Monday 17 April.
Register to vote on the GOV.UK website.