Use it or lose it
Four young people in Scotland are supporting a campaign to encourage more first-time voters to take part in elections, especially those like themselves who have sight loss.
All four are members of sight loss charity RNIB Scotland's Haggeye youth forum, and have posted short videos on its social media channel to highlight 'Welcome to Your Vote Week', which starts today, 24 January, and is being promoted by the Electoral Commission in schools throughout the country.
"As a visually impaired young person, or as any young person, I think that voting is important because we need to get our voice heard in politics," said Jordan Anderson (21), who is studying at North East Scotland College.
Sixth-year school student Rosie Murray from Motherwell agrees. "I'm 17 and I haven't voted yet, but I think that it's very important that people do, especially those of us who are visual impaired and blind," she said. "We don't really get as much opportunities as sighted people to get our voice heard."
Strathclyde University student Abdul Eneser said: "I think it's really important for us to vote because politics is all around us and affects our everyday life. One way to shape these decisions is to participate in democracy and vote for your local councillors in your local area. So please make sure that you do register to vote and make your voice heard."
Claire Forde (25) from Greenock, a former Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament, said: "As a seldom heard group in society, you could be making a difference, for not just yourselves but for other people's lives and more importantly, changing other people's lives. If you're 16 or over and are eligible, please think about voting. You could make a difference."
Elections for Scotland's 32 local authorities take place on Thursday, 5 May, this year.
Andy O’Neill, head of the Electoral Commission in Scotland said: “We’re delighted that RNIB Scotland’s Haggeye youth forum is supporting our 'Welcome to Your Vote Week' campaign, which is designed to raise awareness amongst young people who will be able to vote for the first time on 5 May.
"We want to ensure all young people have the information they need to cast their vote with confidence at the council elections, and a range of resources for new voters and schools are available on our website at www.electoralcommission.org.uk/learning.”
James Adams, director of RNIB Scotland, said: "Local authorities play a vital role in helping blind and partially sighted people to live as independently and inclusively as possible. It's vital that young people understand that their vote counts just as much as anyone else's, and that they do have a democratic say in how their community is served."
RNIB Scotland is launching its own manifesto, 'Local Vision', for the Scottish local authority elections later this month.