EDITORIAL – Benefits of letting 16-year-olds vote outweigh the negatives

Joan of Arc was 16 when she began her campaign to free France from English domination. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

An 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 and CFJC Today. Contact him at

About Mel Rothenburger (8041 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on EDITORIAL – Benefits of letting 16-year-olds vote outweigh the negatives

  1. If we are considering being more open in our rights to vote we should also expand the voter role.The idea that people who are only sixteen don’t know enough about politics is ludicrous.The revolution that is going on down south right now is a prime example.
    If youngsters don’t partake in politics it is our fault .We have marginalized and kept them separate for far to long by not teaching public involvement in school.By preventing Pro Rep systems the Alt right has been able to stop voter participation ,which is their goal.
    We must start full civics courses in grade eight and soon ,along with Pro Rep voting systems we should consider a mandatory vote.If you want voter turnout to be the envy of the free world that is one way to achieve it.

  2. Nelson Riis // March 27, 2018 at 8:13 AM // Reply

    I have a grand daughter who is 15 and in grade nine. In her school classes they debate various Canadian political issues after researching the topics being examined. She often asks me questions about politics as do many of her friends. She is informed about most current events and understands that people differ in their political views. She and her friends discuss the platforms of the political parties running in the upcoming Ontario election. She could easily cast an informed ballot on election day and she is not yet 16.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: