Today in the BC Legislature I reintroduced a bill that would lower the voter age in British Columbia to 16. This is the third time I’ve introduced this bill. I’ve provided a detailed rationale for it here, here and here, and expanded upon it further in a Vancouver Sun article that was published today.
Below I reproduce the video and text of my introduction of the bill, as well as the media statement that we released.
A. Weaver: It gives me great pleasure to introduce a bill that, if enacted, would lower the voting age to 16 in British Columbia.
The voting age in British Columbia was not always 18. Federally, it wasn’t until 1970 that the Canada Elections Act was amended to drop the voting age from 21 to 18. In British Columbia we made the jump in two steps. First, in 1952 we dropped the voting age from 21 to 19, but it wasn’t until 1992 that we made the subsequent change to lower the age to 18.
Around the world, more and more jurisdictions are openly discussing the notion of dropping the voting age to 16, and, in fact, a growing number have actually done so. Austria, Argentina, Brazil, Germany and Scotland are but a few of the jurisdictions that have extended voting rights to 16-year-olds.
There’s ample 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 lifetime.
Sadly, in the 2017 election, only 56 percent of youth aged 18-24 and only 46 percent of young adults aged 25-34 voted here in British Columbia. Compare that to the provincial average of 61 percent and to the 75 percent of seniors aged 65-74 who voted.
It’s also a common misconception that 16-years-old are not as informed and engaged in political issues as older voters. The research, however, says otherwise.
Sixteen- and 17-year-olds are old enough to drive, pay taxes, get married and sign up for the military. They should have a say in the direction our province is heading as they ultimately inherit what we leave behind.
Mr. Speaker: The question is first reading of the bill.
A. Weaver: 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.
Bill M205, Election Amendment Act, 2018, 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.
Weaver re-introduces bill to extend voting rights to 16 and 17-year olds
For immediate release
March 13, 2018
VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, introduced a Private Member’s bill to lower the voting age to 16 in B.C. This is the third time Weaver has introduced the bill.
“Young British Columbians have the greatest stake in the future of our province; they should have a say in the decisions our politicians make,” said Weaver.
“Yesterday, Elections B.C. announced that only 56.24% of 18-24 year olds and 46.35% of 25-35 year olds voted in our last provincial election. Voting rights have been extended to 16 year-olds in Scotland, Argentina, Austria and Brazil. Evidence from those jurisdictions shows that enfranchising these young voters has led to substantially higher levels of political participation.
“Moreover, research shows that the cognitive skills required to make calm, logically informed decisions are firmly in place by age 16. Young citizens of British Columbia are old enough to drive, pay taxes and sign up for the military. They are also the leaders of tomorrow. They should have a say in the direction we are heading, as they will inherit what we leave behind. B.C. should take this chance to strengthen our democracy and lower the voting age to 16.”
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | firstname.lastname@example.org