A rising star of Welsh Labour has given his backing to extending the vote in all British elections to 16-year-olds and making voting compulsory. Cardiff South and Penarth AM Vaughan Gething, who was made a Deputy Minister in the Welsh Government in June last year, told a conference of sixth-form students at the National Assembly that he backed extending the vote and making voting mandatory. His call for 16-year-olds to vote was backed by the Welsh Government, but it rejected the suggestion of a move to compulsory voting. The right to vote has been granted to 16-year-olds in the Scottish independence referendum, which will take place in September. Asked if he was in favour of votes for 16, Mr Gething, who was representing Welsh Labour , said: “Yes, is my view. I’m in favour for votes for 16 for all elections – for local government, for the Assembly and the general election. I think it would be a positive experience to get people voting early.”
Mr Gething said teenagers often provided “at least as good, and frankly a lot of the time an awful lot better” debate than older voters and also indicated he was in favour of making voting mandatory.
“I think everybody is perfectly capable of making the decision on the sort of government they’d want to see and the consequences of that decision,” he said. “In my view…yes, votes for 16. But I’d also make voting compulsory, as well.”
Compulsory voting is the law in more than 20 countries in the world, with Australia the best-known. It introduced the measure 90 years ago following nearly a decade as a law in Queensland, with the law driving up turnout in national elections from as low as 47% to between 94% and 96%.