Electoral reform consultation

Our consultation paper on electoral reform considers possible improvements to electoral law. It sets out a number of areas where the government has identified issues requiring action, including candidacy, voting, and electoral administration.

Ministerial Foreword

George Adam MSP, Minister for Parliamentary Business

As Minister for Parliamentary Business, I welcome the opportunity to launch the Scottish Government's consultation on electoral reform. This consultation seeks to deliver on the joint undertaking between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Green Party set out in the Shared Policy Programme - to increase voter registration and promote active participation in elections by under-represented groups, including young people and foreign nationals.

Following on from our previous electoral reform consultation in 2017, which led to substantial changes in the law in 2020, this consultation represents another important step as we seek to modernise our elections. Proposals for change are set out for areas which we think need updated such as the law on intimidation of candidates; scheduling of elections; and the role of the Electoral Management Board for Scotland.

We led the way by lowering the voting age to 16 to give young people a voice. It is clear that young people have made full use of that voice. They have continued to vote as they move into their 20s, and - I hope - will remain engaged with voting for the rest of their lives. There have been calls from young people to give them the chance to stand for election in Scottish Parliament and Local Government elections. I acknowledge this will be seen as a controversial proposal by some but would welcome your thoughts on whether or not we should extend the right to stand for elected office to those who are aged 16 or 17. We also wish to further expand candidacy rights to people who have chosen to make their life in Scotland to give them the same rights as other citizens. We are keen to hear all views.

Everyone should have the right to vote independently and in secret, but we recognise that more must be done to break down barriers to voting where they exist within our society. With this in mind, we also want to hear your views on how these barriers can be removed and how legislation can best support this aim, including for people with sight loss.

I invite you to respond to the consultation. Your views will count. Thank you for taking the time to consider these proposals.

George Adam MSP
Minister for Parliamentary Business


Email: ElectionsTeam@gov.scot

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