SIXTEEN and 17-year-olds are being given the right to vote in National Assembly and council elections in Wales after the Senedd and Elections Act yesterday received royal assent.

The Welsh Assembly passed the bill in November and the act will come into effect in May, leaving England and Northern Ireland as the only parts of the UK where teenagers are denied the franchise. Under the act, the Welsh Assembly will also be renamed Senedd Cymru/Welsh Parliament.

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It represents the biggest change to the franchise in Wales since 1969, when the voting age was reduced from 21 to 18. Jess Blair, director of the Electoral Reform Society Cymru (left), said: “These changes send a decisive signal that 20 years after devolution Wales now has significant powers to do things differently and change the way elections work.”