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Voter numbers surge in North Ayrshire

Posted on 20 Mar 2017

Voter numbers in North Ayrshire are increasing at a higher rate than anywhere else in Scotland, new figures have revealed.

The latest statistics from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) reveal that North Ayrshire has experienced the highest level of growth in voter numbers over the past year – partly due to a massive surge in young voters.

The NRS report highlights that North Ayrshire attracted the largest increase in the number of people signing up to the Electoral Register out of all Scotland’s 32 local authorities.

Between December 2015 and December 2016, North Ayrshire enjoyed a 3.3 per cent increase in the number of registered voters. This was the largest increase of any authority and far higher than the Scottish average of 1.5 per cent.

Part of the reason for the Scotland-wide increase was the desire of people registering to vote in both the Scottish Parliament election in May 2016 and the EU Referendum in June 2016.

Another major factor has been the introduction of a lower voting age of 16 for Local Government and Scottish Parliament elections in 2015. 

In North Ayrshire, the number of 16 and 17-year-olds registering to vote rose by an incredible 138.6 per cent – again, the highest increase in Scotland. In 2015, we had 1,014 electors aged 16 or 17 but this number soared to 2,419 in 2016.

By comparison, that was more than double the increase across Scotland which saw an average increase in young voters of 62.6 per cent.  East Ayrshire also had a strong rise of 94.1 per cent while the corresponding increase in South Ayrshire was 79.3 per cent.

Returning Officer for North Ayrshire, Elma Murray, said the Council’s innovative approach to encourage voter registration was paying dividends, particularly among young voters.

She added: “An enormous amount of effort has gone into increasing the number of our registered voters with particular emphasis on ensuring that our young people get to exercise their democratic right.

“The Scottish Council Elections are less than two months away and this will be the first time 16 and 17-year-olds are allowed to vote in these local elections so our Youth Services team have been visiting all of our schools to engage with youngsters and encourage them to register.

“This builds on the outstanding use of social media platforms such as twitter and Snapchat and even stencil drawings in playgrounds to draw attention to young people’s right to vote.

“We also do a tremendous amount of work with our MSYPs, as well as our Youth Council and Joint Cabinet meetings which give young people across North Ayrshire a real insight into the political process and how they can have a say in issues of real local importance.

“It is a huge team effort and these figures show that our hard work is paying off. This increase also serves as further motivation for us to continue to engage with communities across North Ayrshire.”

The Council elections will be held on Thursday, 4 May. If you want to register, go to https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote or contact the Electoral Registration Officer on 01292 612221