Liberal leadership candidate Mike de Jong, with support from counterpart George Abbott, wants the province to look at lowering the legal voting age to 16.
That means some Grade 10 students, who aren’t even trusted to drive on their own yet would help elect the next government. It would give youth a greater voice, but the real intent is to generate greater voter turnout, which hit a record low at 51 per cent in 2009.
It wasn’t much better in 2005, when it was 58 per cent. As far back as 1983, it was 70 per cent.
Lowering the voting age from 18 could also change the focus of elections, from the HST or infrastructure spending to tuition rates, minimum wage or the environment.
Issues discussed less in past elections could gain prominence as candidates try to entice younger voters. We could see social media play an even greater role.
Would we see new parties, dedicated solely to issues affecting youth, sprout? Could we see younger candidates — as young as 16?
Lowering the voting age won’t guarantee a greater percentage of voter turnout.
Politicians would be better off examining why voter participation is in decline, instead of blaming a hockey playoff game. Maybe they just aren’t as interesting. Maybe voter turnout has declined because there aren’t worthy candidates.
What voters want is someone who will take the best interests of B.C. as a whole to heart.
If people aren’t interested in politics, it is because they have been ignored for so long they feel politics just doesn’t matter anymore.
That’s what needs to be addressed.
— Nanaimo News Bulletin