Lowering the voting age to 16 is worth considering

On Monday, an article was published in the Toronto Sun that brought up the issue of Liberals wanting to lower the voting age in Newfoundland and Labrador from 18 to 16.

In 2011, the same issue was brought before Alberta courts.

This could be extremely beneficial in engaging a younger voting community, and understanding trends of youth needs.

At 16, my understanding of government was fairly developed, thanks to the education and re-iteration of party principles in years of social studies classes. I was interested and finally understood how things could affect me.

At 16, I also knew more about the government than many adults I’d talk to. They were simply uninterested, or stuck with the same voting pattern as their parents.

Young adults have a thirst for knowledge. Classes debate and explain and break down party ideals and platforms to get a better understanding of what governments can do at national, provincial and municipal levels. This education encourages young people to make up their own minds and to explore the options of their government.

If people as young as 16 could vote, I think that there would be a greater interest in government teachings. If people can drive at 16, manoeuvring a giant metal box with a motor that kills thousands of people a year, why shouldn’t they be able to vote?

If one were to look at a social studies curriculum in Alberta, they would see that these young adults are learning the skills that would be beneficial to making an informed voting decision. They are taught the importance of making informed decisions; they learn how political institutions affect their day-to-day lives and are made to embrace critical thinking and problem solving.

Curriculums across Canada are designed to engage critical thinking regarding political systems and begin to explore the political inquiry process. What that means is to be able to explore multiple perspectives, consequences of laws and civic issues and developing a strong, clear position on political issues.

Adults are not expected to use these skills when voting – many adults either Google the party a few days before a vote, follow their parent’s interests and voting trends, or simply don’t care.

If Alberta were to pick up this idea, it could have a massive effect on voter turnout. If 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds were allowed to vote, the interests of the future generations would be better represented and the government would be able to plan for the needs and ideas that are valued by younger generations.

Many adults who vote do not research political parties or consider what youths might need from a government.

Voter turnout numbers in Alberta are significantly lower than they used to be, which means there is a large number of the population who feels their ideas and opinions are not worth voting on. This could be due to repetition of the same party being in control for the better part of nearly 40 years – Progressive Conservatives.

If younger people could vote, I think that the Legislative Assembly would include more variety of opinions and values that reflect more honestly what Albertans need.

Provinces across Canada can all benefit from a higher voter turnout. These people are an important demographic of the population, and will soon be able to vote anyway. However, at 16 and 17, youths are being subjected to constant education if they are still in high school. This means that they will be the ones to ask questions and to look towards change. They have the resources to make informed decisions and could prove to be very valuable in successive planning for Canadians.

The voting age should be lowered to 16. These people are old enough to make good decisions and with the guidance of education systems, could do so very well. Many people that vote don’t think it matters anyway, so why wouldn’t Canada open the doors to an interested population?

kmendonsa@reddeerexpress.com

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