Allowing Canadians to vote by 16 will create life-long voting habits
This piece was originally published on Oct. 6, 2019.
If citizens vote when they're younger, they will develop a habit of voting and continue to vote for their entire lives. I think we should encourage that habit at 16, not 18, by lowering the federal voting age in Canada.
In Austria, Malta and Guernsey, the voting age is 16. In their most recent federal elections, each of these countries saw relatively high participation numbers of more than 70 per cent. Plus, Austria tops the Eurobarometer for voter turnout among 15- to 30-year-olds at 79 per cent in elections in the last three years. Europe's average is 64 per cent.
Meanwhile in Canada, the overall turnout for the last federal election in 2015 was 68 per cent. Just 57 per cent of eligible 18- to 24-year-old voters participated in the last federal election in Canada.
If we let young people vote they will realize they are important — that their vote matters — and thus vote for the rest of their lives.
We should also let young people vote on issues that affect them. People under the age of 18 participate in the economy just as adults do. You can find teenagers in fast-food restaurants and grocery stores. I think that these employees should be able to vote for the government that regulates working conditions.
On top of working, the government has enough confidence in teenagers to operate a potentially dangerous vehicle. We all know that in order to drive well you need to obey the rules of the road. If young people are deemed mature enough to do these things, then they should also be considered mature enough to vote.
I know that even these reasons won't convince some people that young people are fit to vote. They will say stuff like: young people aren't mature, or they'll vote for a candidate based on their personality or slogan and not on their ideas. But we thought that was true in Canada concerning women until 1917 and Indigenous people until 1960. We used to think these groups couldn't participate in political processes and now we see how wrong that was.
There are many people who think the same of teenagers, but young people are mature and smart enough to participate in economic and social life just like adults. Times change, and now is the time to let young people vote, too.
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