Younger voices can and should be heard
By Jessica Berget, Opinions Editor
In BC, citizens are old enough to be productive members of our society and have adult responsibilities by age 16. They can drive, get married, pay taxes, sign up for the military, but they can’t make adult decisions, like voting in elections that will significantly impact their futures, and that absolutely needs to change. With recent news of school walk-outs in the US and the current political climate, it’s obvious that activism and politics are important to the younger generations, and the legal voting age should reflect that.
Recently, Green Party leader Andrew Weaver introduced a bill that would allow people as young as 16 years old to vote in BC. Some have argued that 16 is too immature an age to make major political decisions, or that they don’t care enough, but that’s not a fair assumption to make without research.
Places like Brazil, Scotland, Argentina, Austria have already allowed 16 and 17-year-olds to vote, and a 2012 electoral study from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark has shown that people around this age are already political participants. Voters under 20 had a vastly higher turnout than their older peers, but a lower turnout was noted with participants between ages 20-25. This shows that 16 and 17-year-olds already have the means of making their own informed political decisions, and I think they should be allowed to make decisions that can and will affect their futures.
This turnout compares with BC’s 2013 voting polls, as people aged 18-24 had a higher voter turnout than 25-34-year-olds did. Keep in mind that 18-24 only counts for seven different age groups while 25-34 counts for ten, and still had a higher voting turnout. This illustrates that young adults do understand the importance of participating in major political elections and do take it seriously, they just need to be given the opportunity to do so.
It’s important to get involved in politics at a young age. The younger people are when they become involved and educated in politics, the more informed they will be when their voting time comes, and the more habit-forming voting will be as they navigate adulthood.
Democracy is a vital part of our government, and allowing young adults to participate in a democratic society but not allowing them to have their voices heard within the same society is ridiculous. Younger adults will feel the same impact on these electoral decisions as people 18 and older do because it’s their future—just as much as it is ours—that we are voting for, so their voices must be heard.