YOUNG voters are being urged to “stand up and be counted” in Thursday’s crucial Holyrood ballot.

SNP MP Mhairi Black, who was just 20 when she defeated Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander, said young people could be key in determining the outcome of the Scottish Parliament election.

The vote comes after a year which has been “particularly” tough for younger people because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Black, who has been an SNP MP since 2015, said the election gives them a “choice of two futures”.

READ MORE: Reader poll: What do you think about the Holyrood elections on May 6?

With those aged 16 and over eligible to vote in Scottish elections, Black said: “Young people across the country could be critical in helping to elect a First Minister who has led us through this pandemic every day and a government that has equality, compassion and fairness at the heart of its policies, instead of putting Scotland’s future in Boris Johnson’s hands.

“My message to young people is this – don’t let other people decide your future for you.

“Get out and vote SNP on Thursday and stand up and be counted – because your vote can make a real difference.”

READ MORE: Scottish election poll: Opinium puts SNP on track for a majority government

She insisted: “On May 6 we have a choice of two futures, two different governments, one led by Nicola Sturgeon and one led by Boris Johnson – one that listens and one that doesn’t.”

Speaking about the impact of coronavirus on the young, Black said: “The pandemic has been tough for everyone, but particularly so for young people.

“It has disrupted their education, training and employment – and even stopped them enjoying many key rites of passage that make being young special – whether that’s school proms, graduation ceremonies, birthday parties, moving to university or even just being able to see friends.”

She said young people had made “made huge sacrifices for the rest of the country and there is more at stake for their future than any other age group”.

For that reason, she said, policies such as the SNP’s Young Person’s Guarantee – which guarantees young people have a place in education, training or employment – were important.

Black continued: “An SNP government will also deliver affordable homes, put ScotRail in public hands, create new jobs, help with housing costs, and create green jobs in order that Scotland is a net-zero country.

“And in just a few days’ time, if re-elected, there will be new decisions to take on easing the Covid restrictions that will mean much more normality for people’s lives.”