Today in the legislature I reintroduced a bill that if enacted would lower the voter age in British Columbia from 18 to 16. The new name of the bill is Bill M220 — Election Amendment 1, 2017.
Those who have been following this site will know that last year, I initiated a conversation on whether or not we should reduce the voting age to 16. The response on social media was wonderful and we received many emails on the topic.
It turns out that this conversation is not only happening now in BC. Prince Edward Island held a referendum in the fall on electoral reform. The eligibility to vote will be extended to youth aged 16 and 17 in this referendum.
Below please find reproductions of both the text and video of the introduction of my bill. In addition, I reproduce the accompanying press release.
A. Weaver: I move that a bill intituled the Election Amendment Act, 2017, of which notice has been given, be introduced and read a first time now.
A. Weaver: In this bill I’m introducing today, I would propose lowering the voting age to 16 in the province of British Columbia. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that the earlier in life a voter casts their first ballot, the more likely they are to develop voting as a habit throughout their life.
It’s also a common misconception that 16-year-olds are not as informed on and engaged in political issues as older voters. The research, however, says otherwise. These young citizens of British Columbia are old enough to drive, pay taxes and sign up for the military. In fact, the notion of taxation without representation is one that is not founded within our democracy. We require representation with taxation. Austria, Argentina, Brazil, Germany and parts of the U.K. have extended voting rights to 16-year-olds, and it’s time British Columbia do the same.
I move that the bill be placed on the orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
Madame Speaker: Hon. Member, was that No. 1 or No. 2?
A. Weaver: That was No. 1. I’m sorry. Thank you, hon. Speaker.
Madame Speaker: No worries.
Bill M220, Election Amendment Act 1, 2017, introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
Andrew Weaver introduces bill to lower the voting age in B.C.
For immediate release
February 20, 2017
VICTORIA B.C. – Today Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, re-introduced the Election Amendment Act 1, which seeks to engage youth in politics through lowering the voting age to 16.
“There is a lot of evidence that shows that if we engage our youth earlier in the political process they are more likely to develop voting as a habit for the rest of their life,” says Weaver, also the Leader of the B.C. Green Party.
“I’ve been speaking to individuals of all ages since I introduced this bill last Spring. I have heard overwhelming support for lowering the voting age.
“The decisions we make today as legislators will have a profound impact on the lives of our youth. I can’t think of a good reason why they shouldn’t have a stake in those decisions.
“It appears there is a trickle-up effect in civic participation. When youth engage, conversations around the dinner table tend to focus on politics and local issues, which results in a positive impact on voter turnout for the whole family.”
Many other jurisdictions, including Austria, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, and parts of the UK, have extended voting rights to 16-year-olds. Scotland experimented by lowering the voting age in their independence referendum. It was so successful that they subsequently permanently dropped the voting age to 16 in all Scottish Parliament and local government elections.
Mat Wright – Press Secretary Andrew Weaver MLA
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