Voting is essential in every society’s democratic process. It allows residents of a particular nation and age group to share an opinion on relevant issues. Only citizens 18 years and older can vote in Canada. Debates on reducing the voting age are crucial for the democratic system in Canada since they decide who will be allowed to pick the elected representatives or choose the referendum results. These discussions are also aimed at reducing the voting age to 16 and its influence on the development of democracy in Canada. Proponents and opponents typically make good arguments for lowering the voting age to 16 or remain 18. For example, opponents of reducing the voting age to 16 say that such young people do not have the capability and willingness to participate successfully in elections. In comparison, advocates of lowering the voting age to 16 years say that it will positively impact voter turnout. Canada should lower their voting age to 16 because it will increase voter turnout, politicians will pay more attention to the problems of young people. Moreover, it will show Canadian adolescents that they are essential for their country and will give them ambitions to develop the country.
Benefits of Lowering Voting Age
The younger generation of Canada makes up about a third of the country’s population. At the same time, this category of people is not just a significant part of the electorate. Young people are the most active and radical part of society. Enormous potential energy is concentrated within this social group. Lifelong voting habits will be developed by decreasing the voting age to 16. Therefore, the voter turnout will be increased. Turnout in Ontario, for example, was shockingly low. Only 48% of the citizen voted in 2011 (Mahéo & Bélanger, 2020). The voting age should thus be reduced to improve voter turnout. Since experts believe that when people take part in elections at the age of 16, the habit of voting will undoubtedly develop, and those who do not engage in elections at the age of 16 will most likely be not so active in the political system.
Moreover, teens will be pretty interested in voting and will study many political situations. In 2013, for example, when the Maryland in the United States of America dropped their voting age to 16, the turnout for 16 years was four times greater than for those over 18 years (Mahéo & Bélanger, 2020). In the last three years, the turnout among Australia’s 15-30% is 79 percent. The total turnout in Canada for 2019 was 65%. Only 57% are 18-24 years old. They also claim that voting involves teens organizing their parents and others to vote in their neighborhoods and influence them. Young people may help motivate their parents and other people to vote in their communities. It is essential to conclude that lowering the voting age will therefore boost voting participation.
Very often, sixteen-year-olds become independent individuals, which have many responsibilities. In fact, 16-year-olds are knowledgeable about civics and have the same ability to make good voting choices as older voters. Nowadays, students live with threats to their futures, such as climate change and school shootings. (Zeglovits & Aichholzer, 2014). They deserve to influence their elected officials. In different places, the age of 16 is when people’s relationship with the law changes as they often start working, driving, and paying taxes. In fact, 16-year-olds can be emancipated from their parents and live independently in most areas. Hence, most Canadians of all ages and political views argue that they should be allowed to vote.
Furthermore, decreasing the voting age to 16 means that the young people’s topics are better represented. Youth have a right to be heard, and they should take their interests seriously. Therefore, voting adolescents allow politicians to be more aware of youths’ interests. Such changes will be very effective since some issues affect young people more than others, such as long-term government debt, poverty, and public education policies (Franklin, 2019). As young people in politics are under-represented, the problems they have also been not listened. Young people are engaged in politics a lot, making their views known, despite attempts to remove them from the political process. Teens participate in student activism at the school level to reduce the voting age (Franklin, 2019). By running campaigns, defending their rights, and setting up political action commissions, they will participate in politics. Therefore, young people find a means to be active in politics by creating political clubs in schools or utilizing social media to voice views and their right to vote should not be denied.
Reducing the voting age will give young people ambitions to develop the country. Today people can observe the facts when in periods of aggravation of political contradictions, young people are at the epicenter of the struggle, actively support the representatives of radical political forces, in general, as their most active element. Hovewer, the analysis of election campaigns shows that young people behave as one of the most passive subjects of the election process. The lack of electoral activity of young people aged 16 to 18 has a negative impact on establishing the necessary in the country’s political life, especially in terms of innovation. The insufficient political activity of young people in traditional legitimate forms is perhaps one of the main barriers to political reform. Also, characteristic is the indicator of a significant proportion of young people who are ideologically disoriented. One of the essential reasons for this situation is the insufficient level of young people’s ideas about various ideological doctrines, content, history, and tasks.
Lowering the voting age will show Canadian adolescents that they are essential for their country. They are Canada’s next generation and must have their say in what will occur during the following four years of life. The only problem with reducing the voting age is that there might be a group of young people who do not take teenagers seriously. Youth is a dynamic component of modern society. Young people should implement the reforms initiated in the state and develop them to systemic socio-economic transformations (Franklin, 2019). Therefore, determining the formation and development of society focuses primarily on young people, whose potential and knowledge can be the key to progressive evolution. After all, the relationship between the state and the younger generation reflects the difficulties and contradictions of the country’s transition period and affects the course of socio-economic and political transformations (Patterson, 2020). Young people play a significant role in political life as the most mobile social group, prone to innovation. In the political sphere, it provides substantial support for the newly elected political course, adopting Western democratic values, taking into account its own nationally unique traditions. Young people are not only an object but also an active subject of the new policy.
As for the world practice of reducing the voting age, a whole movement, “Vote at 16,” was organized in Great Britain. Activists are proving their right to vote by saying that voters between the ages of 18 and 24 are inactive (Pickard, 2019). They, at 16, have the desire and understanding of the processes. In addition, the Election Commission conducted a survey based on this survey, and 72% of those polled said that 16- and 17-year-olds should have the right to vote. In Austria, citizens received the right to vote from the age of 16 in September 2008. Similarly, in some German states, one can vote in local elections from 16 (Pickard, 2019). In France, this is under discussion, as most respondents oppose such an innovation.
Moreover, In Argentina, voting is mandatory for all citizens over 18, while those aged 16.17 are allowed to vote (Pickard, 2019). In Hungary, those who are already married before the age of 18 have every right to vote. In Slovenia, from the age of 16, one can vote if one is employed. Thus, many countries support the idea of lowering the voting age. In 1970, Canada decreased the voting age to 18 from 21, and thus asked one of the most relevant issues; is Canada going to reduce the age of the vote to 16? As a lowering of the voting age becomes prevalent, the minimum voting age of 16 is implemented by nations such as Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Austria, and Scotland.
Exercise of the Right to Vote from the Age of 16
To exercise the right to vote from the age of 16 in Canada, there must be a requirement for youth to be represented at all levels of government. For example, at local and regional councils, national assemblies, houses of parliament, and any other legislature throughout the country. Also, there should be legal requirements for forming new and adjustment of existing youth policy (Wagner et al., 2012). In addition, the most significant practical measures are needed to avoid disproportionate negative consequences for children and young people. Moreover, there should be a requirement for every bill and rulemaking initiative that impacts young people to conduct actual, accountable consultation with youth organizations and representatives.
Canada should definitely lower their voting age to 16 from 18. The rationale for this is just because decision-making influences government sectors such as youth and student jobs, health, education, and energy. Moreover, most youths 16 and 17 can acquire a job, pay taxes and drive a car. In comparison to voting, some of these behaviors are hazardous. A decrease in the voting age to 16 can help remedy low turnout that will improve voting participation on a long-term basis. Also, politicians who count on the support of young people will focus their political programs on solving the problems of young people. After all, very often, the state does not regulate issues that concern adolescents. In addition, reducing the voting age will give young people the confidence not to be indifferent and to work for the development of their own country. In general, young people play a massive role in the formation of states. Adolescents are the driving force in the reform system. Thus, reducing the voting age to 16 is a good prospect for building a legal democratic Canada.
Franklin, M. (2019). Consequences of lowering the voting age to 16: Lessons from comparative research. Lowering te Voting Age t 16, 13-41. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-32541- 1_2
Mahéo, V., & Bélanger, É. (2020). Lowering the voting age to 16? A comparative study on the political competence and engagement of underage and adult youth. Canadian Journal of Political Science, 1-22. doi: 10.1017/s0008423920000232
Patterson, L. (2020). Youth enfranchisement: A case for a more democratic Canada. Political Science Undergraduate Review, 5(1), 34–37.
Pickard, S. (2019). Devolution, the independence referendum and votes at 16 in Scotland: Holyrood, a pioneer in democracy leading the way for Westminster? Revue Française de Civilisation Britannique, XXIV(4). Web.
Zeglovits, E., & Aichholzer, J. (2014). Are people more inclined to vote at 16 than at 18? Evidence for the first-time voting boost among 16- to 25-year-olds in Austria. Journal of elections, public opinion and parties, 24(3), 351–361.
Wagner, M., Johann, D., & Kritzinger, S. (2012). Voting at 16: Turnout and the quality of vote choice. Electoral studies, 31(2), 372–383.