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(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