With just days left to register to vote, early data suggests thousands of 16 and 17-year-olds remain unregistered.

Figures gathered by the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) from six of Wales’ local authorities suggest a 'postcode lottery' when it comes to registration, with certain areas far higher than others.

According to the data, around 33 per cent of 16 and 17-year-olds are currently registered in Swansea compared to an estimated 65 per cent in the Vale of Glamorgan.

An estimated 70,000 16 and 17-year-olds will be able to vote in a Senedd election for the first time on May 6.

It had been hoped that turnout within the 16 to 24 age bracket would have been high, with a poll by YouGov in February finding that 69 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds felt the Senedd elections were important.

However, the latest figures will raise concerns that Wales may be on course to continue its historic low turnout in Senedd elections.

The National Wales:

Jess Blair, director of ERS Cymru said: “The estimates appear to confirm fears that thousands of 16 and 17-year-olds are at risk of not having their say on 6th May.

“The Senedd elections represent a huge opportunity for young people to make their voices heard on a range of issues that affect their lives including education, health and the economy.

“The extension of the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds should be a historic moment for Wales, but to make that happen  16 and 17 year olds need to register and turn out to vote.”

 “Local authorities need to be doing all they can in this final week to close the registration gap and ensure we have a level playing field, so all of Wales can be heard on May 6.”

Ms Blair also called on the Welsh Government to make voter registration automatic.

 “Voting is a right, and you shouldn’t have to opt in to that, or get caught up in bureaucracy each election. Let’s bring the system into the 21st century so everyone is able to speak up,” she added.

Róisín Jacobson, Peer Organiser at Make Your Mark 2021 and the Ethnic Minorities and Youth Support Team Wales, said: “These figures suggesting a low rate of registration from 16 and 17 year-olds are worrying.

“This election is the first time 16 and 17 year-olds in Wales have been allowed to have their say.

"We understand that many young people are currently stressed out with exams, so we want to highlight how easy it is to register to vote.”


The deadline for registering to vote is 11:59 on Monday, April 19.

Registering takes less than five minutes. For a quick guide on how to register, including postal and proxy votes, visit our handy ‘how to’ here.