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AGE OF CANDIDACY TO BE REDUCED TO 18

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The age at which people can stand for election will be reduced from...
The age at which people can stand for election will be reduced from

21 to 18 under plans unveiled by elections minister Christopher

Leslie.

The independent Electoral Commission recommended reducing the age of

candidacy to 18 and that the minimum voting age should remain at 18

following publication of its report Age of Electoral Majority.

During a visit to Hanson School in Bradford today, Mr Leslie said:

'At 18, if you are old enough to vote, you are old enough to be voted

for.

'Giving younger people the right to participate fully in elections

from the age of 18 can only encourage them to learn more about

the democratic process and use their right to vote.

'It is for the electorate to decide whether a candidate can

adequately represent them and it was the Electoral Commission's view

that there may well be people younger than 21 who are capable of

acting as affective elected representatives.

'The government has noted the conclusion that the commission has

reached on voting age, and that there are arguments both for and

against reducing it. We are keeping this issue under review.

'The citizenship element of the national curriculum has an important

part to play in educating young people about democratic institutions

and political processes.

'The government will seek to legislate to reduce the age of candidacy

when parliamentary time allows.'

The government has introduced various measures to encourage voter

participation by making voting easier and more convenient. These

include piloting internet and text messaging, introducing postal

voting on demand - which has proved very popular among voters - and

rolling registration. It has also established the independent

Electoral Commission which has responsibility for encouraging public

involvement in the democratic process.

Notes

1. The Department for Constitutional Affairs has responsibility for

all issues covered by the Political Parties, Elections and

Referendums Act 2000. The department also has responsibility for

policy, including reform and modernisation, for House of Commons and

European Parliament elections in England and Wales, and for

co-ordination on UK-wide electoral matters.

2. The Electoral Commission published its report 'Age of Electoral

Majority' on 19 April 2004. The full report can be viewed on the

Commission's website at www.electoralcommission.org.uk

3. In Scotland, the age of candidacy in local elections is a devolved

matter. The Scottish Parliament has already legislated to reduce the

age of candidacy to 18 in Scottish local elections.

4. Reducing the age of candidacy from 21 to 18 will for elections to

the Westminster Parliament require amendment of the Parliamentary

Elections Act 1695.

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