Scottish Independence: Drive for teens to vote

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A MAJOR drive is about to be launched across Edinburgh and the Lothians to ensure 16 and 17-year-olds don’t miss out on the chance to vote in the ­independence referendum.

Almost four out of five young people eligible to take part in the September 18 ballot have already registered to vote.

The Capital’s electoral registration office is redoubling efforts with a fresh mailing to teenagers and an information campaign in schools.

Forms for new young voters were sent out along with normal voting registration forms at the end of last year.

First Minister Alex Salmond announced in the Scottish Parliament last week that as of March 10, more than 98,000 16 and 17-year-olds had registered – some 80 per cent of that age group.

In Edinburgh and the Lothians, the figure on the same date was 75.6 per cent, but that has already increased to 78.8 per cent – 13,859 people – and it is expected to rise further. All 16 and 17-year-olds are entitled to vote in the referendum but are not yet able to vote in ­elections.

Within the next two weeks reminders will be posted to addresses which have not returned the registration forms but where it is believed young voters live.

Unlike the original forms, the follow-up mailing will be addressed directly to the young person, rather than their parents.

Electoral registration staff hope to be invited into schools to explain to young people about registering to vote and hand out forms to fill in.

Brian Brown, depute electoral registration officer for Edinburgh and the Lothians, said the number of young people was creeping up all the time.

He said: “We will do as much as we can to get as many as we possibly can and give them the opportunity.

“It is our intention to issue personalised reminder letters and forms to those young electors that we believe to be resident in our area but who have not yet ­registered.

“This, allied to the events taking place in local schools and initiatives by the Scottish Youth Parliament and others to encourage registration, will inevitably increase the number registered.”

First-time voter Livvi Robertson, 16, who is on the Evening News referendum panel, said most young people she knew had registered, but added that it depended on how interested people were. She said: “Most of my friends are really interested in the whole thing.”