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Parties ‘must engage with teenage voters’

Party leaders must do more to engage with 16 and 17-year-olds who will be able to vote for the first time in May’s Senedd elections, it is claimed.

From BBC Wales

Party leaders must do more to engage with 16 and 17-year-olds who will be able to vote for the first time in May’s Senedd elections, it is claimed.

An open letter from 32 organisations and academics urges them to “ramp up” engagement with the 100,000 new voters.

Wales’ Senedd election on 6 May will be the first time 16 and 17-year-olds can vote in Wales.

The new law, passed in 2019, also means qualifying foreign nationals can vote for the first time.

The open letter’s signatories include the children’s commissioner, Race Council Cymru, the National Union of Students (NUS), Urdd Gobaith Cymru and Youth Cymru.

It calls on parties to publish easily-accessible and engaging manifestos targeted at young people, consider new voters when creating policies and participate in hustings and other events for newly-enfranchised voters.

The Senedd is holding a Vote 16 Week from Monday to raise awareness among young first-time voters.

It marks the start of its wider campaign to encourage everyone eligible to vote to Use Your Voice.

People who want to take part in the Senedd election need to register to vote by 19 April.

New polling by the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) and YouGov found that 69% of 16 to 24-year-olds thought the Senedd elections were important – a higher proportion than in any other age group, except the over-65s.

The polling also suggests the youngest age group are much more likely to have engaged in political activity in the past 12 months – 77% compared with about half of people in all other age groups.

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