Last year, Calgary City Councillor George Chahal put forward a proposal to have the Alberta government explore the idea of lowering the voting age in municipal elections to 16 from 18 years of age. The idea is still in the public conscience, recently even being espoused by Nancy Pelosi.
There are many reasons people cite why 16-year-olds should be able to vote. They can get a job, drive, pay taxes and join the military. By many counts, they are already young adults, and there are many 16-year-olds who I’m sure would be mature enough to make the decision of who to elect. (On the other side there is a lot of 27-year-olds I know who I’m not sure are mature enough, but that’s a different story)
It seems pretty simple, but there are concerns from those who oppose it and they carry just as much weight. The first being that 16- year-olds could be easily influenced, most, if not all, still live at home, and their parents opinion of course would carry a lot of weight. I agree with this but also would said that the opposite could be true, rebellious 16 year olds voting the opposite of their parents in spite.
One of the major reasons why people want the change though is they think it will “get young people more involved with politics” which although noble is the exact reason most think we shouldn’t be 16-year-olds vote.
Voting is an important thing, it carries weight and is a key part of being a citizen. It’s a responsibility. Although some activists say that voting young encourages continuing participation in the electoral process, 18 is already young enough.
The question I have is why should we burden 16 year olds with that responsibility? While usually I would argue that increased democracy is a good thing, having 16 year olds who already have a whole host of worries and stresses, have to educate themselves on each political parties manifesto is somewhat cruel.
Exam pressure, social misadventures and coming of age are all hard enough without adding having to have conciseness educated socio-political opinions.
The idea of 14 and 15 year olds having to concern themselves with the news in a run up to an election is just pretty miserable. I say this as a news Junkie and someone who choose to study Politics at high school and college. At 16, I was certainly enthusiastic about politics and would have liked to vote, but I was blessed with being able to form my political opinions and values with no consequence, I couldn’t vote.
But alas, the news is awful, it’s full of slimy politicians, tragedy, crime and corruption and it could make a young person very cynical. As nice as the idea of votes at 16 sounds, and has worked in some countries I think we should stop trying to rush kids to grow up. 14-15 year old Canadians should be skateboarding, hanging out with there friends and having fun not following Premier Ford’s economical policy or reading Liberal Party manifestos.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.