British Columbia

B.C. premier says he's open to lowering voting age to 16

John Horgan says proposal from Green Party leader Andrew Weaver is worth considering

March 13, 2018

There have been calls to lower the voting age to 16 in Alberta, P.E.I. and Quebec. (CBC)

B.C may follow in the footsteps of Austria and Scotland after Premier John Horgan said he is willing to consider a private member's bill that would lower the voting age to 16. 

Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver introduced the bill in the legislature on Tuesday. This was his third attempt to lower the voting age in B.C. 

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Weaver believes that having young people participate in elections while they are still in school is a good way to increase engagement and voter turnout. 

'And we know that if you vote in your first election, you are more than likely to become a lifelong voter.'  - Green Party leader Andrew Weaver 

"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 said. 

"And we know that if you vote in your first election, you are more than likely to become a lifelong voter." 

Weaver says Scotland first allowed 16-year-olds to vote in the referendum on independence.

"And they had such a good turnout that they have subsequently done it for all elections in Scotland," Weaver said.

Green Party leader Andrew Weaver says lowering the voting age will also change election campaign issues. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Weaver believes lowering the voting age will not only increase voter participation, but will also increase the diversity of voices in the legislature.

"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.

"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 reacted to the introduction of the private member's bill by saying he was open to the idea of lowering the voting age. 

"If you start voting as soon as you can, you will probably vote for life," Horgan 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."

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