Welsh government plans polling stations in schools for teenagers

Teenagers in Wales may be able to vote at their own schools and colleges during breaks from lessons, and shoppers could exercise their democratic right while they are picking up their groceries, under new proposals from the Welsh government.

The Labour-led administration is working with local authorities in an effort to introduce pilot schemes of more flexible voting at next year’s council elections.

Voting in different spaces is being considered in order to give the electorate access to the ballot box in familiar environments.

Routinely setting up polling stations in secondary schools and colleges is seen as a way of giving young people better access to democracy, following legislation giving 16- and 17-year-olds the vote in Wales. Consideration is also being given to other sites, such as leisure centres and supermarkets.

In addition, the Welsh government is keen to extend the period during which people can vote, perhaps by opening polling stations over multiple days.

Mick Antoniw, the minister for the constitution, said: “We want to make it as easy as possible for people to vote, which is why we’re looking at making voting possible in more places, including in shops and schools.

“These voting pilots will help us to better understand how we can increase turnout. We believe making voting more flexible and easier will bring democracy closer to everyone.”

Andrew Morgan, a councillor and the leader of the Welsh Local Government Association, said: “A healthy democracy relies on good engagement and accessible elections which fit the modern needs of people in local communities.

“Constructive discussions have already begun with Welsh government to look at new ways to bring democracy closer to the people, and we will look forward to exploring the practicalities of rolling out these ideas in communities across Wales.”

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