Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament testify before a Holyrood committee in 2018 (Image: PA)
YOUNG people aged 16 and over could be elected MSPs and councilors under schemes being considered by the Scottish Government.
The voting age was lowered to 16 ahead of the 2016 Holyrood election, but the age for candidacy remains at 18.
The Scottish Government has now opened a consultation on a range of electoral reforms.
According to the proposals, the right to vote could also be extended to foreign nationals entitled to vote.
But the consultation document acknowledged that there could be challenges when 16 and 17-year-olds stand as candidates in the Scottish Parliament – including concerns that young people will have to live on from their families or carers due to Holyrood’s working hours in Edinburgh.
READ MORE: East Lothian’s ‘winter wonderland’ has been branded an ‘absolute mess’
It also found that holding office at such a young age could harm a 16- or 17-year-old’s education.
It states: “Giving 16- and 17-year-olds the opportunity to stand for election could be argued to raise potential well-being concerns, e.g. B. the potential for intimidation of young people (e.g. in the form of hate speech or during election campaigns).
“Working hours in the Scottish Parliament and local councils could also pose a potential problem for 16- and 17-year-old MPs.”
Parliamentary Affairs Secretary George Adam said: “A robust electoral system is fundamental to Scotland’s success as an inclusive and vibrant democracy where all feel included and empowered.
“It is important that as many people as possible in our society feel they have an effective and independent means of holding government to account, and also feel encouraged to take an active interest in politics and civic life.
“The actions outlined in this consultation are wide-ranging and address key issues on how best to improve the accessibility of elections and encourage voter registration.
“We will consider all responses very carefully before deciding on our next steps.”
READ MORE: Judge rules in favor of Scottish Government on definition of ‘woman’
Meanwhile, the Scottish Green Party – which also supports lowering the candidate age to 16 – has called for extending voting rights to asylum seekers resident in Scotland.
MSP Mark Ruskell said: “Everyone who lives in Scotland should have a say in how the country is run.
“The Scottish Parliament and local councils should always strive to truly represent all the people and voices they serve.
“This must include asylum seekers, who are massively impacted by decisions they cannot vote on.
“When people come to Scotland in search of safety, they should have the same right as all of us to shape the services and government around them.
“We should also seize the opportunity to address the inequalities in our voting rights and ensure our democratic structures look more like the people they represent.”