When looking for statistics about how many young people are registered to vote in the independence referendum, I stumbled across some comments which deemed young people “too immature” to be allowed the right to vote. I was surprised to see that such out of touch views still existed and it made me reflect on the campaign efforts of the Scottish Youth Parliament to get the important democratic right to vote for 16-and-17-year-olds. I believe that the recent efforts of the Membership of the Scottish Youth Parliament, especially from the 5 Participation Champions, to encourage young voter engagement and registration as part of the Aye Naw Mibbe project, proves this opinion to be completely wrong.
My time as a Participation Champion so far has been rewarding. I have worked with many young people, encouraging them to add their names to the 98,000 young people who have already registered, and informing them of the process of voting on the day. These past three months have seen more and more young people engage with the referendum through events such as the National Library of Scotland debate, where around 100 young people quizzed a panel of Yes Scotland and Better Together representatives. This is an example of how we are making a positive change and showing that young people can and will use their vote to influence the outcome of this huge decision.
However, as roughly 10% of young people are still to be registered to be able to vote, we as Participation Champions will not be resting on our laurels. We will be giving MSYPs more in-depth knowledge and details about the Aye Naw Mibbe project during our 54th National Sitting, which is taking place in Shetland on the 5th and 6th of July 2014. I am looking forward to this and I know all my fellow MSYPs are too. This is an opportunity to involve all MSYPs with the work we’re doing as Participation Champions, and this will support the encouragement of democratic participation in every corner of Scotland.
So, to the person who deemed 16-and-17-year-olds too immature to be allowed to vote, here is your evidence that young people can and will use their vote on the 18th September – as long as we as an organisation continue to inform and engage young people.
Robbie Nicoll MSYP
Angus North and Mearns