Terri Smith MSYP, vice chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, says the referendum is hugely significant for young people
Ensuring that Scotland’s young people are registered to vote has been the main priority of mine as a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYP). From the conversations I have had, and the levels of engagement I have witnessed, I am confident young people will turn out in their masses on September 18th to have their say in this landmark moment for the people of Scotland.
MSYPs up and down the country have been engaging with young people in their local areas by running numerous sessions and speaking to their constituents about why voting is important. From the work I have been doing locally, I believe that young people are very engaged and they care about how this decision will affect their future. Time and time again young people are asking questions related to their local areas, recreational facilities and their future job opportunities, demonstrating the extent to which young people care about their future and want to have a say on the kind of society they wish to live in.
I have also found that when young people have felt disengaged from politics in my local area, it is only because no one is actively making the effort to engage with them. Often it only takes one person or a group of people to make politics relatable to young people and highlight how issues that affect aspects of their everyday lives are political matters. A key idea that I often share is that no matter how big or small you foresee a problem or issue, everyone has the right to voice their concerns, and everyone has the right to have their say.
This election is hugely significant as it is the first time 16-and-17-year-olds will have the chance to cast their vote. If we can get these young voters engaged in politics at this stage, we have a much better chance of creating voters for life. Society believes that young people are old enough to pay tax, join the army and get married. I believe it should therefore follow that they should also have the democratic right to vote – in all future elections. Whichever way the vote goes on 18 September, I hope that we, as young voters, will have become part of a legacy that demonstrates that we care about our future and that we want to be involved in the decisions which will shape society in years to come.
If I had one key message to share with the young people of Scotland, it would be that everyone deserves the right to have their say and voting is the ultimate opportunity to show decision makers that young people care. So use your vote wisely and make your voice heard.