Green Party leader makes third attempt to lower voting age
By Jake Wray, News Editor
Do you think 16-year-olds are mature enough to vote?
Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver does. He introduced a private member’s bill in the legislature March 13 that would lower BC’s voting age to 16. This is Weaver’s third attempt to lower the voting age, according to CBC News.
Weaver said lowering the voting age will increase voter engagement among young British Columbians.
“I believe, and a growing number of nations across the world believe, that it’s important to engage youth in our democracy precisely at a time when they are learning about it in schools,” Weaver told CBC News. “And we know that if you vote in your first election, you are more than likely to become a lifelong voter.”
Increasing youth voter engagement is crucial, Weaver said, because youth issues tend to be neglected as politicians focus their attention on older voters.
“When we look at election campaigns right now most people typically campaign to the demographic they know that will vote. Which is the 65-to-74 [age group], 75 per cent of them turn out,” he told CBC News. “That’s why we hear election campaign promises to reduce hip and knee replacement lineups frankly because it’s targeting a demographic.”
Premier John Horgan said he is open to the idea of lowering the voting age, according to CBC News.
“If you start voting as soon as you can, you will probably vote for life,” he said. “If you put it off and put it off and put it off, you might never get into a voting booth, so I’m going to look at Mr. Weaver’s proposal and talk to the house leader and see if it fits.”
Anastasia Gaisenok, executive director of Check Your Head: The Global Youth Education Network, said in an interview on CBC’s The Early Edition that lowering the voting age could significantly change BC politics.
“It will change the political landscape over time,” she said. “I think this will encourage more young people to run for office and vote for politicians who represent their needs and perspectives.”
She said she believes 16 and 17-year-olds would embrace the right to vote, if they received it.
“Given the opportunity, [they] participate and express their opinions and are prepared to take action on them,” she said.
Scotland, Brazil, Argentina, and Austria all have a voting age of 16.