Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lowering the voting age

Mike de Jong has come out and said that the voting age should be lowered.   Here is the text of his news release:
Mike de Jong Proposes Lowering Voting Age
Mike de Jong has promised to lower the voting age in British Columbia from 18 to 16 years of age.
“Year after year voter turn-out has declined and among young people, participation is even worse,” said de Jong. “Young people can drive at 16, they can enter the military and be raised to adult court, we give them these responsibilities so why not take the next logical step and let them be full participants.”
“Political parties already allow 14 year olds to vote in leadership contests so voting for government at 16 is not that big a leap,” added de Jong. “if we want to engage young people what better way than to allow students in their graduating year to become full participants in the electoral process.”
To engage young people to think about the future of BC de Jong announced a video contest. The contest is for youth to produce a short video on what they would do as Premier of BC or on what matters most to them today. Two prizes of a $500 Canada Savings Bond will be awarded to the contest winners in each age category.
Entries will be uploaded to a new web site www.beheardbc.com
“Direct participation is the best way to renew democracy,” said de Jong. “We need to hear the fresh ideas that young people will bring about their future and the future of the province.”
De Jong says that if he is elected Premier of BC that he recommends the introduction of legislation to lower the voting age to 16. “As I go around the province, I will be listening to the reaction to this idea and asking young people to tell me what want they want BC to be.”
Media Contact
Don McDonald
778-918-4807

I like this idea as I do not think there is any good reason why only age is used as limit to whether you vote or not.   Frankly, having a say in government is much more important to someone that is 16 than someone that is 75.   I know how much about politics my sons know and I am certain they are better prepared to make a decision at the ballot box than many adults.   Certainly they contribute more to society than people that are imprisoned who are allowed to vote.

I have not heard a good argument for having a lower age limit to voting.   16 is a start, but I think it should be changed to 13 so that all youth go through at least one election before they leave school.   I would then have a special advance poll at all high schools and defacto make it is an expected part of school.   Getting the youth engaged and learning about it before they leave school should make voting more of a part of the culture.

I suspect my oldest son may join the BC Liberals just to support Mike de Jong on this issue.  My second son, Benjamin, is still too young to vote in the Liberal leadership race as he will not be 14 till next summer.  I may consider supporting Mike de Jong simply for raising this issue.

Ben has been frustrated for a few years that he is not allowed to vote even though he pays attention to politics.  He went as far as to ask the leaders of the major federal party leaders about this in the last election.   Only Jack Layton said the idea of lowering the age was a good idea, the other two fudged.   Ben was 11 at the time.  Ben says he would vote for the NDP if he could.

I am going to encourage all three boys to submit a video entry into the contest Mike de Jong is running where you say what they would do as premier.

I am listening to Christy Clark at the moment on CFAX and she is speaking in favour of the idea of lowering the voting age.
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