Wales’ Senedd Elections in May will be the first that 16 and 17-year-olds and all qualifying foreign citizens are able to vote, representing around 100,000 potential electors.
The group has sent a letter to party leaders in Wales, signed by the Children’s Commissioner, Race Council Cymru, the NUS, Youth Cymru, Diverse Cymru and dozens more.
It calls on parties to commit to publishing easily accessible and engaging versions of their manifestos on a wide range of platforms, targeting young people and communities that are traditionally less likely to vote and to participate in hustings and other events that focus on newly enfranchised voters.
The letter comes as unreleased YouGov polling commissioned by the Electoral Reform Society shows that 69 per cent of 16-24 year olds think the Senedd Elections are important – a higher proportion than in any other age group except the over 65s.
Jess Blair, Electoral Reform Society Cymru director, said: “May’s election represents a significant step forward for Welsh democracy, with new voters adding fresh energy to the debate .
“It comes at a difficult time when we know the election will be anything but ordinary, but political parties and their leaders have a duty to ensure they play their part in the successful extension of the franchise.
“We know that the first vote is crucial to building democratic habits that last for a lifetime.
”That’s why it’s encouraging to see that young people realise the Senedd elections are so important – shaping decisions on health, education and our recovery as we come out of the pandemic.
“But this election is unlike others in Wales’ history. With so many new voters, parties must pull out all the stops to ensure they are reaching out to every community, and help create voting habits that last a lifetime.
“This has the potential to build a new generation of active citizens.”