LOWERING the voting age to 16 in General Elections could have changed the result of this year’s poll, according to analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In an article published to coincide with today’s birthday of leading feminist activist and suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst 159 years ago, the ONS highlights the difference that 16 and 17-year-old voters could have made.

It says that in 19 of Scotland’s 59 constituencies, the 16 and 17-year-old population was greater than the winning margin – equivalent to 32 per cent of constituencies. That compares with 22 per cent of constituencies in Northern Ireland, 17.5 per cent in Wales and 10.5 per cent in England.

“Overall there were 88 constituencies where the number of 16 and 17-year-olds was greater than the winning margin,” says the ONS.

“This doesn’t mean that the outcome in the seats would have changed, that would depend on voter turnout and preference, but it does show us those areas where there would have been potential for change.

“Four of the 10 constituencies with the smallest margins were in Scotland, with the constituencies of North East Fife, Perth and North Perthshire, Glasgow South West and Glasgow East all with a majority of 75 or less.”

It notes that lowering the voting age to 16 is something that has already been introduced in Scotland for Scottish Parliament elections, but points out that at a UK level the different political parties have mixed positions.

The SNP, Plaid Cymru, Labour, the LibDems and the Greens all want to lower the age limit, while Ukip oppose the move.

Theresa May does not want to change it, but the Tories’ Scottish leader Ruth Davidson is in favour.

The ONS also attempted to judge the impact of an age reduction in the results of UK elections: “In 2015, the most recent year for which we have constituency-level population estimates, there were 1.5 million 16 and 17-year-olds in the UK.

“They would have made up 2.87 per cent of the population aged 16 and over. Of course the areas with the tightest margins will change from election to election, so another way to look at this is to explore the areas with the largest proportion of 16 and 17-year-olds.

“The proportion of 16 and 17-year-olds in the population [of those] aged 16 and over might give us a sense of this population’s potential to influence the election outcome.

“However, care must be taken in using these data to assess the potential impact on election outcomes as these population estimates include some people who are not eligible to vote (for example foreign nationals) and exclude some people who are eligible to vote (for example overseas electors).

“Birmingham and Bradford had the largest proportion of 16 and 17-year-olds, as a share of those aged 16 and over. The Birmingham Hodge Hill constituency stood at almost five per cent (4.85 per cent), followed by Bradford West, Bradford East and Birmingham, Hall Green.

“The smallest proportions of 16 and 17-year-olds were found in Battersea (1.48 per cent), Glasgow North (1.54 per cent) and Glasgow Central (1.58 per cent).

The ONS says Pankhurst’s ultimately successful fight for women’s voting rights remains one of the most important milestones in changes to electoral laws in the UK over the last 185 years, adding: “Yet the size and shape of the UK electorate has not changed markedly since 1969 when the voting age was reduced from 21 to 18.”