Following a change to the Referendum Bill currently being considered in the Scottish Parliament, the 16 and 17 year old children of relevant service families outwith Scotland WILL be able to vote in the Scottish independence referendum on 18 September, 2014.
The change will apply to eligible teenagers living with a relevant service voter parent in England, Wales or Northern Ireland - not only those overseas.
It appears however that service children will only be allowed to register and vote in the referendum if their service parent is themselves registered to vote in Scotland as a service voter.
The result is that an under-18 child of a service family might be able to vote in the referendum but not the scheduled 2015 General Election, while his or her older brother or sister will be able to vote in the Election but not the referendum. We see no way round this, however, without changing UK electoral legislation, and the issue is unlikely to affect many individuals.
The change was introduced by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in the Referendum Bill Committee's session yesterday 3 October, and appears to have cross-party support, in the context of other 16 and 17 year olds already being permitted to particpate in the referendum.
The change will benefit 16 and 17 year olds resident with their service voter parents anywhere in the United Kingdom - not only overseas.
BAFF will continue to monitor the situation and advise. Any member with queries about their entitlement to register and vote is welcome to get in touch.
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