Young first-time voters make up their minds

Longridge Towers pupils aged 16 and 17 who will be voting in the Scottish referendum
Longridge Towers pupils aged 16 and 17 who will be voting in the Scottish referendum

First time voters know what is at stake today as Scotland goes to the polls to make the biggest political decision of a generation.

With pollsters predicting that the result is too close to call, teenagers from Berwickshire and across the country could well have the future of Scotland in their hands.

For the first time, 16 and 17-year-olds are allowed to vote.

Nearly 1,800 under-18s in the Borders have registered to vote today. Not for a local councillor or even a politician to represent them at Holyrood or Westminster. Instead, their first vote will be far more important than that. They will be asked: ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’

“I think it’s a good thing that 16-year-olds can vote,” says 16-year-old Aaron Bolton of Cockburnspath. “It’s great to bring young people into the political process.”

Catriona Cook, 16, from Lamberton believes it is long overdue. “Why are young people like us being asked to vote in this referendum and not franchised in other ways?,” she asks.

Jack Criddle, 17, from Greenlaw believes the lowering of the voting age to 16 was a “cynical” ploy. He says: “The only reason to lower the age for voting was to get lots of patriotic young Scots to vote ‘Yes’.”

Seventeen-year-old Rachael Aitken from Coldingham goes to Longridge Towers School in Northumberland. She says the uncertainty will persuade her to vote ‘No’.

But Euan Matthews, 17, Greenlaw, is voting ‘Yes’.

“A lot of young people are afraid that tuition fees might be brought in. I’m looking to become a civil engineer, and looking at universities already. I know that lots of young people will be put off applying if this happens.”