(Blogger of The Week): Should 16 year olds be able to Vote in Canada?

(Blogger of The Week): Should 16 year olds be able to Vote in Canada?

A Ballot Box For an Election in Canada [7]

At the age of 16, many Canadians can drive a vehicle, be tried and sentenced as an adult in a court of law, have a job, and pay taxes. Teenagers are just as affected from government policies than the rest of Canada.So the question is why can’t 16 and 17- year-olds vote in a federal election. Having the voting age lowered to 16 will have greater benefits to Canada as whole than not having them vote at all.

Countries across the world such as Argentina, Cuba, and Austria have already taken  steps to lower their voting ages. In 2007, Austria had successfully changed their voting age to 16. This helped change civic and citizenship in their schools and it helped make Austrian youth more interested in their countries affairs.[2]

The reasons why I choose to do this topic is that I learned a lot about the voting system and elections in civics class. I personally find elections to be both interesting and educational. When I watch elections on T.V. read a candidate’s platform online and I would really want to apply what I learned in civics class by having the right to vote.

 

The percentage of people who voted in the 2011 federal election

 

Increased Voter Turnout

Canada as a country doesn’t have an amazing turnout when it comes to elections, especially for young adults. For example, the graph above shows that Elections Canada had reported that 38.8% turnout among people ages 18 to 24 in the May 2011 federal election.[1] This was well below the 75.1% of those ages 65 to 74 who actually.To add, the provincial election in B.C. had approximately a 57% voter turnout which happens to be the lowest ever.It is well known that young Canadians are among the least engaged citizens in politics; why not encourage the younger generation of Canadians by allowing them to participate in the voting process.[2]This engagement into politics could then create a passion that could last well into their adult years, raising the percentage of voter turnout across the board.[4]

The main reasons why people don’t vote in general is that they lack the information on political parties and what they stand for. But, if the voting age was lowered 16 in Canada, they will find the accurate information on these parties and share them with their family and friends. This will encourage a lot more people to vote in all kinds of elections in Canada.[3]

 

They will make well Informed Decisions

By changing the voting age to 16, it will allow Canadian youth to get a voice on how the country is run. It will allow them to express their opinion about federal, provincial, and municipal issues that affect them just as much as any other group of Canadians. For example, education, public transportation, healthcare, employment, and many more. Lowering the voting age will also government more accountable to canadian youth and require them to address the issues that concern most young Canadians.[2].

Also, with most youth having direct access to the Internet, they can read about all there is to know about a candidate, and with a direct stake in the outcome of the election, they would make an informed choice. “In a recent study run by Student Vote, a not-for-profit organization that holds mock elections in elementary and high schools, has data to prove that students would make this informed choice. Before the last federal election, 563,000 students under the age of 18 across the country casted their mock -ballots in this program and elected a Conservative minority with an NDP official opposition – a result that is almost identical to that of the actual election”.[5]

 

They will be More Engaged in Politics

If the voting age was lowered to 16 more young Canadians would be more passionate about politics. Furthermore, it will develop experiences that will make them successful in improving the way our country works in the future.[3]This will raise their political awareness at a younger age and may lead to more political involvement and a greater connection between young people’s involvement in a variety of political forums such as student councils and students’ union activism”.[6]

This will ensure political investment at a young age and will provide young people with positive steps such as, “civic, social and political engagement is an integral part of an individual’s personal and social development”. They will also apply these traits in their extracurricular activities outside the classroom such as clubs, sports teams, and youth organizations. The right to vote at 16 will serve to empower younger people with the right to influence decisions that will affect their lives.[6]

 

Counterarguments

Even though there are a lot of pros for lowering the voting age to 16 in Canada there are cons that were addressed by other people throughout the internet when I was researching this topic such as young people being too easily swayed by family and friends, them being too inexperienced about political landscape, and them being lazy in general (the cartoon that Is placed above represents how young people are viewed as lazy when it comes to this subject). Some other cons about 16-year-olds voting include:

The Vote Might Not be independent

  • Teens can be highly influenced by those whom they care about
  • Teachers, parents, or even campaigning politicians could influence a younger person’s vote and manipulate them to vote specific ways

Teens Might Not Have Access To Polling Centres

  • In some locations, the driving age has been changed from 16 to 18.
  • This means on voting day, it could be virtually impossible for a teen to find a way to reach a polling center where they could cast their vote.

Younger Voters are Immature

  • Since at 16 your brain is not well developed enough to make well decision
  • They will vote for the person who they believe is cooler[4]

 

They are Mature enough

One of the main concerns about letting 16 year olds vote is if they are mature enough. I find those statements completely false for several reasons because  “there isn’t a big difference between 16 year olds and 18 year olds when it comes to mental capacity for thought and development. An individual at 16 years of age is mature enough to inform themselves on issues affecting their lives and engage in the political system through the electoral system”.[6] Also, 16-year-olds have gone through 10 years of school so that means they have the necessary knowledge to comprehend a situation in involving the government.

A picture of the slogan Taxation Without Representation [9]

They are Responsible Enough and Have The Right to Better Representation

Earlier I talked about when Canadians turn 16 they face many responsibilities. Many Canadian youth who join the workforce before they graduate high school. Once they get paid they receive deductions from CPP (Canadian Pension Plan) and EI (Employment Insurance). These Canadian youth also pay GST (Goods and Services Tax) which provides the government millions in federal revenue. I find this funny because for all these tax deduction Canadian youth who work get form their pay cheques the least the federal government can do is give them better representation or even better the right to vote. Have you ever heard of “Taxation Without Representation” (shown in the picture above) is probably the best way to describe what im talking about and that is the best reason to lower the voting age to 16.[8]

Also lets be honest here we allow people who don’t have a high school education, people with mental illnesses, and even people with criminal records vote in elections so what’s stopping 16 and 17-year-olds to vote?

Do you think the voting age should be lowered to 16 or stay at 18? Leave a comment below to answer the questions or express your opinion on anything regarding the topic. To add, the video below is about the Stand up be counted campaign to give young people a voice on political issues.16-year-old Lauren Cruddas and 18-year-old Fopay Jegede went to Westminster to find out more about the issues surrounding lowering the voting age. There they interview Graham Allen, a politician on his insight of the issue and the two girls have their own small debate about the pros and cons of  lowering the voting age to 16.

 

Questions

  • Should the government try to figure out ways to get more young people engaged in politics if so why?
  • Why do you think people are not interested in voting in elections?
  • If the voting age was lowered what policies would you want the government change in the following, education, healthcare, and employment?
  • Why do you think the voter turnout is low for 18 to 24-year-olds in Canada?

 

References

[1] Switzer, Jane. ‘Let’s Lower The Voting Age To 16 – Macleans.Ca’. Macleans.ca. N.p., 2013. Web. 23 May 2015.

http://www.macleans.ca/education/uniandcollege/lets-lower-the-voting-age-to-16/

[2] Vancitybuzz.com,. N.p., 2015. Web. 23 May 2015.

http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2013/06/why-16-year-olds-should-be-allowed-to-vote/

[3] Arvin900.wordpress.com,. ‘Uncategorized | Arvin900’. N.p., 2015. Web. 23 May 2015.

https://arvin900.wordpress.com/category/uncategorized/

[4] Apecsec.org,. ‘Lowering The Voting Age Pros And Cons | APECSEC.Org’. N.p., 2014. Web. 23 May 2015.

http://apecsec.org/lowering-the-voting-age-pros-and-cons/

[5] The Globe and Mail,. ‘Why Wait Until 18 To Vote? Let’S Start At 16’. N.p., 2013. Web. 23 May 2015.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/edu

cation/why-wait-until-18-to-vote-lets-start-at-16/article13430567/

[6] Voteat16.ie,. ‘Nine Good Reasons | Voteat16.Ie’. N.p., 2015. Web. 23 May 2015.

http://www.voteat16.ie/nine_reasons

[7] Cheadle, Bruce. ‘Splitting Off Investigative Role From Elections Canada Cost $2.9 Million | National Newswatch’. Nationalnewswatch.com. N.p., 2015. Web. 25 May 2015.

http://www.nationalnewswatch.com/2014/11/24/splitting-off-investigative-role-from-elections-canada-cost-2-9-million-2/#.VWJndk_BzGc

[8] Forster, Cole. ‘Canadian 16 And 17-Year-Olds Should Have Voices Heard At Voting Booths – The Gateway’. The Gateway. N.p., 2015. Web. 3 June 2015.

https://thegatewayonline.ca/2015/02/lowering-canadian-voting-age/

[9] Erepublik.com,. ‘No Taxation Without Representation(New Worker Tax Unfair) – Published By Exalted Druid On Day 2,089 – Page 1 Of 1’. N.p., 2015. Web. 3 June 2015.

http://www.erepublik.com/en/article/no-taxation-without-representation-new-worker-tax-unfair–2303670/1/20

 

23 Responses »

  1. Personally I believe that 16 year olds should not vote based on the fact that we are not mature enough. Although we may be able to drive that does not know we have the consciousness in the right idea about voting for our country. We might not make the right decision based on certain attributes about the person rather than the political views that they contribute. Some 16 year olds might have the right idea of voting and know where they stand on what they would like to achieve in the country from the political perspective, but also, like some adults, most of the 16 year olds would not take part in the voting or if they do, not enough research would be done to back up their opinion.
    A lot of people do not vote in Canada, yet the majority complains about the government (Stephen Harper mostly). My belief is that if you do not vote you do not have the right to complain. Based on that, do you believe that if 16 year olds were to vote, they would complain just as much if not more about the government than adult voters?

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment Liam and yes I do believe 16 year olds would complain about the government just as much as adult voters because if you did vote for a candidate and they won the election you expect that person to live up to the promises that got them into office or that candidate that you didn’t to win won and that would probably give you more reasons to complain since you don’t agree with that person platform and ideals.To add, if both adults and teenagers have the time to complain about what happens in the government then do something about because in my eyes too I believe if you don’t vote you have no right to complain on what the government does in any way is a perfect thing to say to someone if they complain about the government.

  2. First off, I would like to say that this post really got me thinking about my own opinion and this topic and did a good job at trying to convince people to be open-minded about changing the voting age to 16, however, I still think it should be 18. This is because of the simple fact that there is an enormous difference between a 16 year old and an 18 year old considering their maturity, intelligence, and other factors.

    Should the government try to figure out ways to get more young people engaged in politics if so why?
    Yes, the government should try to figure out ways to get more young people engaged in politics. As we have seen in the chart, there is a clear pattern. The older people get, the more likely they are to vote. We should try to increase the percentages overall and especially get the younger demographic (18-24) to start voting more!

    Why do you think people are not interested in voting in elections?
    This is because people are too busy, sometimes they forget, or aren’t interested in the candidates/don’t want to vote for any of them.

    If the voting age was lowered what policies would you want the
    government change in the following, education, healthcare, and employment?
    There should be more funding for education, and healthcare should be improved. Teachers should also be getting paid more because as we have seen, there are been many strikes which led to students missing school. I’m glad to see that employers are giving more young people the chance to work and aren’t just looking at work experience but volunteer experience as well. Recently on the news I saw that hospital waiting times have dramatically increased, therefore, patients have to wait longer. This is a problem that should be fixed not for teenagers specifically, but for everyone.

    Why do you think the voter turnout is low for 18 to 24-year-olds in Canada?
    This is because many people in this age demographic aren’t interested in politics, or are too busy with their lives. Many people in this age group are in university, and are trying to balance their school life with a work, and social life.

    • I want to thank you for commenting Subhan and for answering all of my questions I put out. When I picked this topic I assumed at least half of the class would agree with me but I was surprised that so many of you thought that it shouldn’t be lowered which I completely get. Im glad that many of you pointed out your concerns about changing the voting age but I still believe that changing the voting age would be a great benefit for our country and give Canada a better future. But here is another question I have for you, “if you had the option to vote would you do it and why?”

      • If I had the option to vote, I don’t think I would. This is because frankly, I don’t know a lot about politics. Over the next few years I want to be more informed and watch the news more frequently. If I were to vote, I would probably just do whatever my parents did.

  3. its a great post don’t get me wrong however I only have one thing to say to this post about teenagers under 18 is that we and they are easily manipulated. The political parties would use this against us and manipulate us into thinking that they are the best to vote for because they would do so much for us but in actuality they won’t do those things they promised for us but we still voted for them. what do you think about this comment?

    • Well Ron you raise a good point about teenagers under 18 being manipulated by politicians but I don’t think that justs teenagers under 18. When a politician who is running for office makes a promise that would benefit a specific age group in a positive way which would cause adults to vote for that person. Then lets say that politician won that election would you say all those who voted in that election who were 18 and over were manipulated. That’s the thing some politicians will tell us things that we want to hear so they can get themselves elected. So does that make someone who is 18 and over different form someone who is 16 and 17 not really but it depends on how you see it. Thanks for commenting Ron

  4. Hey Najib, fantastic post, it’s a very important topic to talk about! I personally don’t think the voting age should be lowered, since it is a very important decision and I feel as though the majority of 16 year olds lack the intelligence and maturity to take that unto themselves. Also, I don’t know who is running and what they stand for, and frankly it doesn’t affect me since I don’t pay taxes or pay the bills in my house right now, so my decision would not be affected by these essential factors.

    1. Should the government try to figure out ways to get more young people engaged in politics if so why?
    Yes, I think that the government have to figure out ways to get young people interested in politics, since we the citizens are the government! I think one of the best ways of doing this is creating a nation wide Civics program that goes into deeper detail on who currently is running and what each party stands for.

    2. Why do you think people are not interested in voting in elections?
    Some people can’t decide, and some are not interested for the same reason- they think that all the people running are bad for our country and that it’s hard to choose which of them is the least bad. Although there may be some truth in this, you should always do some research on the benefits of each leader. I still think that if you don’t know who to vote for- don’t vote. Choosing a random person may lead to a worse government.

    3. If the voting age was lowered what policies would you want the government change in the following, education, healthcare, and employment?
    I’m not quite sure whether lowering the voting age would change my opinion on this, but I think that post-secondary education should be free or much cheaper than it is right now. Some people may need the education from university, but because they were focusing on grades in high school instead of finding a job, they lack the financial means of going there. If you are let in to university for free, the government is investing in great minds. These great minds will make a better country and increase the reputation of Canada, so the government will make their money back and more.

    4. Why do you think the voter turnout is low for 18 to 24-year-olds in Canada?
    People in this age range are usually going to university, and have other important things on their mind. They also may not have as much knowledge as older people, and therefore don’t trust themselves enough to make such an important decision.

    • Thank you for the positive feedback Alex and for answering all the questions. I have one more question for you though, you mentioned in my presentation that our Civics classes don’t teach us enough about the government, elections, voting, and political parties. What should civics teachers and the school board do to make more high school students engaged in politics?

      • In Grade 7 I had a fantastic teacher named Mr. Lochiavo. Every morning he read us “Current Events” and we wrote them down in a notebook. I think this is something that high schools should do as well, since that will improve the students’ knowledge of politics, history and the world overall.

  5. Great article, I’ve been mulling over this topic for quite some time, and I agree with you. 16 year-olds should be allowed to vote in Canada. For me, this isn’t an argument of maturity or intelligence, it is a argument for representation. more and more kids these days are entering the work force younger and more and more young people are suffering from massive student dept. For the government to care about young people and young people’s issues, they need the power to vote.

    The fact of the matter is, people don’t get the right to vote based on intelligence. We let people who never graduated middle school vote, we also let people with severe mental disabilities vote. We even let the most heinous murderers and rapists vote. This is because it is all about representation. You vote to gain representation for yourself, not to necessarily make the country a batter place.

    You make a counter argument that teens may be manipulated by politicians and friends and family. However, politicians are already blatantly manipulative. fear mongering and false promises are the bread and butter of the modern electoral system. If manipulation is your concern, talk about overhauling the voting system.

    Anyway, loved the article. Although, I’d recommend you focus more son on Canada itself. The name of the article is why it should be 16 “In Canada”. Most of your arguments are very general.

    • I find your point interesting however an article that had statistics from 2013 compared to the late 90’s showed a decreasing number for 16 year olds in the work force. It said that in the late 90’s 23% of 16 year olds had a part time job and in 2013 9% did. It blamed this on the fact that less teenagers want to work and I think searching for a job is getting harder and harder because more places want you to have experience before they hire you. That being said, it proves to be a small amount of 16 year olds that actually have a job. It is not that they don’t matter but what about the majority of kids that age are without a job, and if they have no experience, how could they help benefit those with a job? They won’t know much about the topic to make an informed decision.

    • I appreciate your insight Elliot and Im glad somebody agrees with me on this topic. I have added most or all of the suggestions you have put for me in your comment. Also you said “I’d recommend you focus more son on Canada itself. The name of the article is why it should be 16 “In Canada”. Most of your arguments are very general,” I added an extra paragraph explaining how Canadian youth who recieve tax deductions on their pay cheques lack representation in the government. Once again i want to thank you for commenting and giving me some advice on improving my blog

  6. Very interesting points Najib, I haven’t thought of why the voting age is what it is until now. I don’t know whether or not people our age should be allowed to vote, but I also believe that we are a large portion of the society and we could make an impact. The argument that teens would not be able to get to voting locations troubles me. I don’t know if it is unique to where we live but the majority of stations are set up at schools. It should not be hard for 16 year olds to get to school if they already go there 5 days a week.

    • Thanks for commenting Trent, when I founded that argument I was very surprised that it was an argument in the first place. I choose to put that as a counterargument because it would help strengthen the argument on why 16 year olds should vote if that’s one of the only few reasons from those who believe 16 year olds vote after you put up the point where most voting stations are near schools and other public places

  7. This is an interesting, and clearly controversial topic. Personally, I believe that the voting age should not be lowered to sixteen. Sixteen year olds simply lack the intelligence and maturity. Most are not aware of, or involved in current happenings. One can argue that many work and drive. But, working and driving are both things that many teenagers are interested in. Additionally, many teenagers are fast and reckless drivers. They work because it allows them to earn, become independent and support themselves. At the age of sixteen, most teenagers are not concerned with national issues.

    • Thanks for commenting Abiha, you put out the responsibilities that many Canadians who turn 16 receive such as being able to drive and work. But, at the end you mention “most teenagers are not concerned with national issues,” why do you think teenagers are not interested in national issues?

  8. I think you have some great points on why the voting age should be lowered, however, I feel like a more appropriate voting age would be about 21. 18 is still a teenager and I think even though at 18 you are considered an adult, you still have the mentality of being a teenager. I feel like if it was raised to 21, people would have time to get over the fact that they can’t act like a kid anymore, start handling more responsibilities and might be able to engage in the topic better seeing how they might have more work experience than 16 year olds and might choose to learn more about it through peers and research. Also, at 16 you just start learning about civics meaning that there is still a lot on the topic you don’t know because the course is only half of a semester. If the voting age was raised, people would have a greater compilation of information on this topic to make a well informed decision and know more about what to expect with the outcome.

  9. Brianna you raise some really good points about the voting age being raised but problem with doing it that is that it will decrease the voter turnout. Young people are a large portion of society and if you include them in elections than the voter turnout will increase. Also I believe high schools should make a better effort on teaching us more about politics because we are the future of society and if we not interested in politics as much as our parents what does that say about the future of Canada as a whole. Finally, thanks for taking the time to address your opinion to me

    • But take into consideration that a small percentage of those people are 18, 19 and 20 and not all of them vote anyways. The damage will not be big and by raising the voting age, more accurate decisions will be made.

      • There is no such thing as a wrong vote in an election though. People vote for candidates that have political platforms that appeal and benefit them in such ways.The whole point of election is to choose a candidate who brings up better ideas to change a country, that doesn’t mean the other candidate is the wrong person to vote for its just more people agree with what the winning candidate had to offer. Also by increasing the voting even though the damage may not be big its still decreasing the voter turnout and sending a message to the youth of Canada that their voice doesn’t matter. Furthermore the government should try ways to encourage 18 to 20-year-olds to vote.

      • I am not saying that they will vote “wrong”, I am just saying that the votes will be more accurately made because younger people are less informed of the situations and are more likely to make half hearted decisions, not fully understanding the consequences that the power of their vote has. You do raise some great points though.

  10. Very interesting post, Najib. Me, as well as most people in the comments, believe that the voting should not be lowered as many teenagers are easily influenced and are not mature enough. I am not saying that every teenager is like this, but there some teenagers that I’ve seen that I don’t believe are mature enough to make a political vote. Now I’ll answer the questions:

    Should the government try to figure out ways to get more young people engaged in politics if so why?
    I do agree that young people should be engaged in politics so they understand it when they are old enough to vote and are able to tell who they believe is best for them. 16-year-olds are still in high school so finding a way to get them interested while they are still in school would be a easy and effective way.

    Why do you think people are not interested in voting in elections?
    I believe that they either don’t care who gets elected or they don’t have time to care from work or school since mostly 18-24-year-olds are not voting.

    If the voting age was lowered what policies would you want the government change in the following, education, healthcare, and employment?
    I believe that Canada should follow int he footsteps of countries such as Finland, Sweden, etc. and make post-secondary education (university and college) free. Finland and Sweden have very stable economies due to the huge amount of educated people in the country. This shows that free post-secondary education is a great investment for the future.
    Why do you think the voter turnout is low for 18 to 24-year-olds in Canada?
    They most likely are busy with post-secondary education and probably don’t have time to vote.

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