First-time voters were enthusiastic and informed, Committee survey finds


An overwhelming majority of 16 and 17-year-olds who were eligible to vote in last year’s historic referendum did so, with four out of five saying they want a vote in all future elections, a Scottish Parliament committee survey has found.

More than 1200 of the eligible first-time voters responded to the online survey run by the Devolution (Further Powers) Committee with more than one in three saying they had campaigned for either side and two in five saying they had attended a campaign event.

Welcoming the findings, Devolution (Further Powers) Committee Convener Bruce Crawford MSP said: “We saw an unprecedented level of interest and democratic engagement around the referendum and the results of this survey provide further evidence of the energy and enthusiasm generated.

“It is quite clear that 16 and 17 year olds welcomed the opportunity to have their say on their country’s constitutional future and now want a say in the elections that shape their lives and communities – it is now for politicians to respond positively to that democratic momentum.”

Survey findings include:

  • Over 84 per cent of respondees agreed with the decision to give 16 and 17 year olds the vote in the Referendum
  • Three-quarters of respondees felt “well informed” or “quite well informed” about the major issues;
  • Nearly 36 per cent of respondees campaigned for either side while one in four joined a political party;
  • Four-fifths believe they should be able to vote in other elections;
  • Nearly two-thirds accessed online or social media material from the official campaigns while broadcast media was the most popular source for information.

Mr Crawford said: “I am delighted that the UK Government has agreed to transfer responsibility for running elections in Scotland to the Scottish Parliament, paving the way for votes in future Scottish, UK and local elections.

“We will use the findings of this survey to ensure that future generations of voters are as well-equipped as possible to make decisions on the issues that affect them.”


The survey was distributed to young people via schools, colleges and youth clubs. More than 1200 responses were received.

The Devolution (Further Powers) Committee also met with and listened to 16 and 17-year-olds in Fort William and Levenmouth as part of the Parliament Day initiative.

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