Changes to local and national elections to be explored

19.09.2019

Proposals to change the way national and local elections are run in Scotland will be examined by the Scottish Parliament’s Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.

The proposals in the Scottish Elections (Reform) Bill would extend the time between elections to the Scottish Parliament and local government, meaning these would routinely take place every five years, instead of four.

The Bill would also allow young people to be added to the electoral register ahead of attaining voting age. Under the proposals within the Bill, young people could apply to be added to the electoral register from 14 years of age, with voting taking place from 16 years of age.

Now the Committee is asking for views on the Bill, including what impact these changes would have in practice.

Committee Convener, Bill Kidd MSP said:

“These proposals would permanently change the way national and local elections are run in Scotland. The way elections are run are one of the cornerstones of our civic life, so it is important that any changes have a positive and meaningful impact.

“The Bill proposals would allow young people to be added to the electoral register from 14 and we particularly want to hear from young people about what this change would mean to them and what impact this would have on their access to democracy.”

Other proposals in the Bill include giving the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland - to be renamed Boundaries Scotland - more flexibility to set the size of all council wards as well as introducing measures to facilitate pilots for some form of electronic voting.

The Committee’s call for views is open until 7 November 2019.

Background

The Scotland Act 2016 amended the Scotland Act 1998 to devolve further electoral powers to the Scottish Parliament.

The changes were based on recommendations made in the Report of the Smith Commission and gave additional powers in relation to the operation of Scottish Parliament and local government elections in Scotland.

More information about the Committee’s call for views can be found on the Committee’s webpage.

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