As the voting public of Wales heads to polling stations across the country today, this includes for the first time, 16 and 17-year-olds.

About 70,000 people in the age group were eligible to register after the voting age was lowered last year.

When the Bill to lower the voting age was first introduced in the Senedd in February 2019, the presiding officer of the then Welsh Assembly, Elin Jones, said she hoped it would "engage young people in particular in the democratic process".

We reached out to schools across the region to see how this age group felt about the opportunity.

The following responses are from eligible young voters at Alun School, in Mold; Ysgol Clywedog, in Wrexham; Connah's Quay High School; Flint High School; St David’s High School, Saltney and Ysgol Treffynnon.

1. How do you feel about being able to vote and will you be voting?

Mae Lewis: "I will vote and feel excited about doing so for the first time. I've been looking at all the leaflets to help me decide who to vote for."

Olivia O'Kane: "I feel very grateful to have the opportunity to vote."

Owen Coppack: "I'll definitely be taking the opportunity to vote. It's really important to have your say on issues that impact on your community. I thought lots about who I want to vote for."

Tom Metcalf: "Taking part in the democratic process is exciting. It's really important that the wheels of democracy turn smoothly."

Osian McCulloch: "Yes I will be voting, as I feel it’s important to have your voice heard."

Ella Simons: "I’m optimistic about voting, I feel like I have opportunities to share my voice which I haven't been able to do before. I will be voting in the election because I feel it is very important for young people's voices to be heard and our best interests to be represented."

Hannah Whitley: "Yes, I will be voting. I feel quite privileged to have the chance."

Olivia Parker: "I am really excited that I can now vote as I have had a keen interest in politics ever since I was about 14, so now I have the opportunity to voice my opinion and be a part of a democracy I will 100% be going to vote on May 6."

Grace Mead: "I'm looking forward to the opportunity to use my voice and vote for the change I would like to see."

Luke Unsworth: "I will be voting and it feels like it will actually matter."

Max Griffiths: "I feel good about getting my voice heard. I will be voting."

Matilda Nicholls: "At this age, with my current knowledge of politics, I'm not sure if I know what I'm voting for. I don't read around politics much, I'd probably just vote for the same party as my parents"

Caitlin Parr: "I think it's good and yes I'm voting."

George Jones: "I feel happy that I have the privilege of being able to vote and yes, I will be voting."

Cain Griffiths: "It feels great to be able to vote!"

Kristin Evans: "Yes I will be and I think it's a privilege."

Meg Nelson: "I think it's a good opportunity to show our opinions and I will be voting."

Jacob Hughes: "I won't be voting and I think it's silly that 16-year-olds can vote."

Lewis Williams: "I will be voting and I'm glad of the chance."

Brandon Devine: “I think having the opportunity is great, although I don’t think I know enough about politics or politicians.”

2. Has the opportunity to use you vote made you more aware of any local or national issues?

Olivia Parker: "Definitely, keeping up to date with local and national news to me is crucial and especially so when there is an election coming up.

"Deciding who to vote for means I have had to evaluate the current issues, especially in the local area, more thoroughly."

Ella Simons: "Yes, I have been keeping for up to date and engaged with the issues in our community and making sure to keep all this information in mind when I cast my vote."

Evie Garner: "I feel campaigning in the local area has made me aware of really important issues. It has been good that the candidates have engaged with us."

Grace Mead: "I have always been quite aware of both local and national issues, however, being able to vote has definitely widened my awareness of how politics affects these issues."

Olivia Burgess: "I am increasingly aware of the issues in our area and the plans of each party to deal with them."

Lily Holt: "It been interesting to hear about local issues, for examples improvements to transport in our area and how each party would deal with the NHS at a time of pandemic."

George Jones: "Yes, even smaller issues such as making sure all public places are accessible for everyone."

Osian McCulloch: "Not really, any campaigning I have seen has been on more of a countrywide scale, and nothing I have seen has focused on Wrexham or the local area."

Cain Griffiths: "The opportunity to vote has definitely made me more aware of the local and national issues."

Luke Unsworth: "Yes because I've been reading about different parties and what they're trying to achieve."

Max Griffiths: "Yes, because they send them through the post and I've looked at them. I have researched the parties too."

Caitlin Parr: "Yes. Not so much issues but more of what people want to solve in our areas."

3. Do you read or watch more of what those looking to gain your vote have to say?

Ben Bullock: "Being able to vote means I'm paying much closer attention to what politicians are saying. I want my first vote to be an informed choice."

Cain Griffiths: "Since being given the opportunity to vote, I have definitely read more of those looking to gain my vote."

Osian McCulloch: "I have looked through some agendas on the people I may vote for, but in general they all say similar things."

Tom Metcalf and Evie Garner: "We're unsure how to vote on the regional ballot, so are paying really close attention to everything the politicians say about what matters to us."

Meg Nelson: "If it's before something I want to watch on TV."

George Jones: "I have looked more into each party to get a better understanding and then decide who to vote for."

Grace Mead: " At the moment, I have been reading and watching more information from the different politicians, which has allowed me to form opinions on them."

Kristin Evans: "Yes I do on the news."

Olivia Parker: "Yes. Whilst deciding upon who to vote for in these upcoming elections, reading manifestos and schemes my area candidate has proposed has been the most useful, for me personally."

Caitlin Parr: "Yes, I'm looking at the news more as to whether what they say on their flyers has a relevance to what's actually going on."

Ella Simons: "Yes, I am sent many leaflets through the post and seeing the variations of choices has informed me of what my options are."

Olivia O'Kane: While I have heard some information about candidates, I haven't read or watched more about our local politics."

Luke Unsworth: "I just read what gets sent through the mail from different parties."

4. Do you think your vote can make a difference?

Olivia O'Kane: "I think my vote can make a difference as I will be able to have a say in what happens in our community. I will also be able to encourage my peers to vote."

George Jones: "Yes, as it allows my voice to be heard and I could potentially have an impact on things that could impact me in the future."

Owen Coppack: "I think my vote does matter. It could be a really close election and come down to very fine margins."

Caitlin Parr: "Yes because I feel that if more young people vote, the Senedd will need to listen to us a bit more."

Tom Leigh: "Having a constituency and regional vote has made me want to engage and find out how the system works and why my vote matters. I'm looking forward to being able to cast my first vote."

Grace Mead: "I don't think one person's vote can make a large difference but I think collectively our votes will bring the change we want to see."

Hannah Whitley: "Yes. Having the younger generation's views on political issues can make a significant difference."

Luke Unsworth: "Yes, because if everyone votes the more each vote counts."

Kristin Evans: "I suppose if we do it as a whole then we will. We're the next generation and it will help to guide future planning."

Jacob Hughes: "A slight difference."

Brandon Devine: “I do, although if I vote without first being educated on national issues, it may be the wrong choice.”

Ella Simons: "Yes of course, everyone’s vote is counted and everyone’s choices are heard including my own."

Osian McCulloch: "Not really as it is only 1 vote, but I suppose it improves the chances of a good candidate being elected."

Olivia Parker: "Yes, every single vote counts and it is very important."

Cain Griffiths: "Yes, I believe my vote can make a difference."

5. What are the main concerns or issues that you would like to see addressed?

Ella Simons: "From a personal point of view, thinking just of my community I would like to see business brought back into our high street and the eradication of homelessness."

Osian McCulloch: "The fact that there are no young candidates that we can vote for."

Cain Griffiths: "More policing on our roads."

George Jones: "The main concerns for me would be, making sure we leave the coronavirus pandemic in a suitable way, helping the economy get back on its feet and in terms of more long term concerns, making the country more environmentally friendly is vital in my opinion."

Jacob Hughes: "How they tackle further covid measures."

Owen Coppack: "I want to see funding and support for those going to university as a priority."

Tom Metcalf: "I really care about poverty and want to know what each party is going to do about housing, jobs and improving our community in general."

Grace Mead: " The funding of the Welsh NHS is important to me and I would like to vote for a party who will support it."

Olivia Parker: "For me, the most important issue is climate change and other environmental issues such as plastic usage and fast fashion."

Luke Unsworth: "Greater support for key workers so that they don't have to keep working long hours during the pandemic."

Max Griffiths: "I enjoy sports and I'd like to see more funding in that area."

Lewis Williams: "Improved facilities like sports centres for young people."

Olivia O'Kane: "I believe that it would be useful if there was less litter. It would also be helpful if the potholes were repaired. More bins could help reduce litter."

Hannah Whitley: "Better leisure facilities in the local areas. To have more money for better equipment in schools."

Jazmine March: “Issues like sexism and making the world better for the more unfortunate of society.”