21 to 18 under plans unveiled by elections minister Christopher
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
'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.
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.