Casual commentary about political, cultural and economic issues with a particular interest on the city of Winnipeg by John Dobbin
Monday, August 13, 2012
Lower the Voting Age to 16
The Free Presslaments about the low voter turnout. It is a worthwhile discussion and the talk has leaned towards a mandatory vote. Perhaps in the next election, the Free Press will get all reporters on board and engaged rather than writing a column about a treehouse in the middle of the last provincial outing.
There are around 30 countries that have one and it certainly increases the voter turn out. One suspects if Australians weren't forced to the polls, they would turn out in way below 50 per cent numbers. Canada should not be so smug. We are getting closer and closer to that.
I have no idea it is a strategy of the major parties to ensure that voter suppression happens. It would appear that it is in the interest of some parties that certain people don't get out and vote. There has been evidence of this in provincial and federal elections.
It will be interesting if one political party makes mandatory voting an election promise and see what the response of the other parties is. If they disagree, perhaps they can indicate what measures they are making to not fall below have the population voting.
If making mandatory voting seems too big a step, there is an alternative to ensure that more people vote.
Lower the voting age to 16.
It has happened all over the world. Austria, Nicaragua, Brazil, Ecuador, Hungary, Slovenia, and Norway already allow 16-year-olds to vote in certain circumstances. Some cities have also changed their laws to allow voting.
If the argument is that 16 year olds are too immature and it would be dangerous, perhaps we should raise driving age to 18 years as obviously the same argument applies. Right?
The age of 16 is good for operating a vehicle. Said vehicle could kill the user and others and yet we allow the young the opportunity to manage such a responsibility.
Can someone please argue why a vote should be disallowed when driving is allowed?
Does making an argument of not allowing 16 year olds the vote smack of the same reasons why women were denied the vote?
It is time for one political party in Manitoba to change the laws provincial and municipally to lower the vote to age 16. It is time to see just how democratic and far we are. It is time to make this a teachable moment in schools and for families. It is time to stop complaining about voter turnout among the young and actually do something about it.