EDITORIAL: Lowered voting age only a matter of time

The B.C. Green Party leader has reignited an age-old question in the B.C. Legislature. Andrew Weaver introduced a private member’s bill last week to lower the provincial voting age to 16.

It’s the third time the Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA has introduced such a bill – a voting age minimum already in effect in Scotland, Argentina, Austria and Brazil.

“Evidence from these jurisdictions shows that enfranchising these young voters has led to substantially higher levels of political participation,” said Weaver.

The Green Party leader’s proposal quickly met with heated opposition, with critics taking to the airwaves and commenting online. Most of those opposed to lowering the voting age suggested that youth at 16 don’t have the experience and knowledge necessary to cast an informed ballot. But that argument doesn’t hold water.

We don’t demand adults prove their comprehension of the issues before they’re allowed into the voting booth, and there is little doubt that ignorance knows no age boundaries. It’s not much different than the argument from a bygone era that democracy should be restricted to property owners.

The truth of the matter is that today’s youth have just as much at stake, if not more, in the decisions made by the current government. The age on their birth certificate should not make their views any less valid.

And those views are what this is really all about. The younger generation is much more likely to support things like environmental protection, marijuana legalization and increased government funding to deal with issues such as homelessness and transit – in other words, issues closely aligned with the left of the political spectrum. And that’s a major reason why the Green Party supports a lowered voting age and small-c conservatives oppose it.

The numbers bear this out. More than 170,000 elementary and high school students participated in the Student Vote program for the 2017 B.C. election. In the Student Vote results, the NDP formed government with 60 seats, with the Green Party gaining Official Opposition status with 14. The Liberals won 12 seats and one independent candidate was elected.

While views on the issue may be shaded by political preferences, the steady march of progress suggests that laws infringing on any group’s democratic rights will eventually be relegated to the pages of history.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Recent arrests skim surface of Victoria’s human trafficking problem

Port city makes desirable place for traffickers flying under the radar

Oak Bay athletes rule the slopes at Island ski and snowboard series

Oak Bay boys take top ski, snowboard honours

Two-vehicle crash in Langford sends one to hospital Monday morning

Driver sent to hospital with unspecified injuries

Victoria Canadian Forces member honored with exceptional Rotary Club award

Capt. Jacqueline Zweng is the Western Canada Ambassador of Wounded Warriors Canada

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

Amtrak warns of delays as railways from Seattle to B.C. blocked by Wet’suwet’en supporters

Coastal GasLink said it’s signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected band councils along pipeline route

Federal emergency group meets on pipeline protests as rail blockades continue

There’s mounting political pressure for Trudeau to put an end to the blockades

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Most Read