Scotland’s referendum on whether to break away from Britain is making history in more than one way: It has been the first time 16- and 17-year-olds in the U.K. have been able to cast a ballot. Scotland lowered the voting age from 18 to 16 for the referendum. Though the new teenage voters are a relatively small part of the voting population, the move has given them rare political power. When the change in voting age was announced, it was seen as a likely boost for independence, given the conventional view that younger voters tend to have less affinity for the status quo. But polls suggested that might not be the case. Election officials say that more than 100,000 16- and 17-year-olds are registered to vote, out of 4.29 million total voters.
Pollsters say it has been difficult to accurately gauge teenagers’ voting intentions in their normal polling because relatively few of them were surveyed. A Thursday poll of more than 3,000 voters published by YouGov showed the youngest cohort was evenly split between voting for and against independence. The sample of voters, though, ranged from 16-year-olds to those aged 24. A survey of more than 1,000 teenagers published by University of Edinburgh researchers in June found that those under 18 favored maintaining the union by 52% to 30%.
Yet like many other polls, the researchers also found a big portion of those interviewed hadn’t made up their minds. Walking alongside Mr. McMillan and dressed in the same uniform, Paul Feeney, 17, said he was unsure until the last minute, then decided “yes.”
“I tried to stay undecided for a while, and then just today sort of decided on it. So quite nervous for it, but excited,” he said.
Full Article: Teenagers Take Part in Scottish Vote – WSJ.