An ArmchairMayor.ca editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
SHOULD 16-YEAR-OLDS get the vote?
BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver thinks so. He’s introduced another Private Member’s bill to lower the voting age in B.C. to 16 from 18. Premier John Horgan says he’s open to the idea.
Weaver points out that 16-year-olds get to vote in Scotland, Argentina, Austria and Brazil, which he says has led to substantially higher turnout.
There’s no way of knowing, of course, whether that participation has improved the quality of voting, rather than just the quantity.
Detractors say Weaver just wants to bolster his own party’s chances at the polls, since young people tend to lean towards his party’s principles. They also point out that experts say the human brain doesn’t become fully developed until around the age of 25, and that the parts of the teenager’s brain that control emotion often run ahead of logic.
As one medical expert puts it, “Good judgment isn’t something they can excel in, at least not yet.”
Weaver, on the other hand, claims that “the cognitive skills required to make calm, logically informed decisions are firmly in place by age 16.”
I’m with Weaver on the vote issue. Teenagers might not always make the best choices but when it comes to voting, adults don’t have a sterling record either. Why not broaden the voter base and get citizens active and politically savvy earlier in life?
During the past several days, gun-control rallies have been held in hundreds of cities throughout almost 40 countries, including Canada. Those rallies are part of a movement that might actually do something about the gun slaughter.
And who’s responsible for making it happen? Teenagers, many of them 16 and even younger. Where adults have failed, teenagers just might succeed.
As Weaver says, 16-year-olds are old enough to drive, work, get married and pay taxes; why not vote?
I say, we have nothing to fear, and much to gain, by giving the vote to 16-year-olds.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on ArmchairMayor.ca and CFJC Today. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.