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Teen Voters Could Sway Outcome Of Scotland's Independence Vote


Scotland's referendum on independence includes a unique group of voters, 16- and 17-year-olds may take part in today's vote.


They haven't been able to vote before, but lawmakers made an exception for the question on separating from the U.K.

INSKEEP: We reached two young voters outside the Scottish Parliament. Sixteen-year-old James Kane favors independence.

JAMES KANE: A vote for yes would open up more doors to make Scotland's future greater than a no vote would. I can respect both sides. Both campaigns have strengths; however, I think that Scotland's future could be brighter if we vote yes.

INSKEEP: Mr. Kane says the vote inspired him to become politically active. He says he believes a more local government would be better for Scotland.

CORNISH: He'd also like Scotland to be known for more than its stereotypes.

KANE: Haggis, whisky, Iron Brew, bag pipes and things like that.

INSKEEP: Other young Scots favor remaining part of the United Kingdom.

NATHAN EPEMOLU: My family don't necessarily originate from Scotland; although I was born here, and so was my brother. My family as a whole, we're more based in London. And my dad's from Nigeria, and I've got, like, roots all over the place generally. So I think we kind of hold a kind of more broad view.

CORNISH: That's 16-year-old Nathan Epemolu. He started undecided, but now favors staying within the U.K.

EPEMOLU: I've got a generally collectivist attitude, and I kind of - I've also went in the very simple idea that two heads are better than one, so why not two parliaments?

CORNISH: But Epemolu thinks Scotland's future will be just fine no matter what voters decide today.

EPEMOLU: If it was a no vote, then I think it will make Westminster sit up and take notice of Scotland because obviously this referendum has been a wakeup call to them and obviously should have made them realize that they're not necessarily running the country in a way that is beneficial for both Scotland and England.

CORNISH: Those are two voters under 18 in Scotland's referendum. We found them thanks to the BBC. They'll be voting because the Scottish Parliament changed the rules for this vote. One study estimates two-thirds of the 16- and 17-year-olds will vote no on independence.

INSKEEP: According to that study, the biggest issues driving a teenage no vote are the economy and uncertainty over whether Scotland would get membership in the European Union, which, if the study is correct, means the 16- and 17-year-olds are making a fairly sophisticated choice. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.