Assembly Member for Pontypridd, Mick Antoniw has welcomed the Welsh Government’s Local Government Bill, which proposed a twelve week consultation on a range of electoral reform measures including extending the right to vote to 16 and 17 year olds, introducing electronic voting and moving to a system of proportional representation to elect Councillors.

The proposals are designed to make it easier to vote and easier to be entitled to vote. If enacted, they would amount to the biggest change to the Welsh electoral system since 1970 – when the voting age was lowered to 18.   Under proposals set out in the consultation, 16 and 17 year olds in Wales would be given the right to vote in council elections – under powers transferred to the National Assembly for Wales under the Wales Act.

The consultation also includes a review of the role of Community Councils and looks ahead to when the UK is due to leave the EU in 2019 and asks whether all foreign citizens normally resident in Wales should have the right to vote in local elections.

Mick Antoniw said:

“This is an exciting time for our democracy and new powers devolved to the National Assembly for Wales means that we have the opportunity organise elections in Wales so that they increase voter participation and engagement.

“I’ve long been a supporter of votes at sixteen, after all you can pay tax and get married at that age, so why not vote?  I’m also pleased that the consultation will look at electronic voting.  In the UK we’ve traditionally voted at dedicated polling stations on a Thursday, but that doesn’t work for everyone.  So, why not install voting stations at supermarkets or extend voting over a whole week?   We routinely carry out all sorts of daily transactions online, so we need to look to see if this can be extended to voting.

“I’m also pleased to see a review of Community Council roles and responsibilities.  We are fortunate to have very active and effective Community and Town Councils in Taff Ely, but that isn’t the case everywhere.  I’ll certainly be pressing the case for more responsibilities for this important level of government.

“The Welsh Government’s proposals offer the opportunity for more people to get involved in our democracy more easily and I encourage all residents to engage in the consultation.”