How young people in Scotland experience the right to vote at 16: evidence on 'Votes-at-16' in Scotland from qualitative work with young people

Huebner, C. ORCID: 0000-0003-0321-2546, 2021. How young people in Scotland experience the right to vote at 16: evidence on 'Votes-at-16' in Scotland from qualitative work with young people. Parliamentary Affairs. ISSN 0031-2290

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Within the UK, Scotland offers a unique case study of 'Votes-at-16' in practice. Research provided evidence on the immediate effects of voting age reform on young people's engagement with politics, but little is known about how young people experienced being allowed to vote from the age of 16 years. This article analyses qualitative evidence about young people's experiences with the right to vote at 16 since the voting age reform in Scotland. Drawing on data from interviews with young people, we find that 'Votes-at-16' brought about a mix of experiences. In combination with the experience of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum it marked a uniquely mobilising life event that boosted confidence in youth voice and led to a perceived increase in political efficacy. It also raised frustrations with young people, however, about their lack of voting rights in other elections and about a perceived gap between expectations and reality regarding the role of schools. By examining young people’s experiences with 'Votes-at-16' in Scotland, this article contributes to debates about the implications of voting age reform in the Scotland and beyond.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Parliamentary Affairs
Creators: Huebner, C.
Publisher: Oxford University Press (OUP)
Date: 14 July 2021
ISSN: 0031-2290
Rights: © The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Hansard Society. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercialNoDerivs licence (, which permits non-commercial reproduction and distribution of the work, in any medium, provided the original work is not altered or transformed in any way, and that the work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 20 Jul 2021 09:21
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2021 09:21

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