Westsyde students speak out for drop in voting age

By James Peters
May 11, 2016 - 2:35pm

KAMLOOPS — A group of students taking the Social Studies 11 class at Westsyde Secondary School have launched an appeal to the provincial government to lower the voting age in BC.

The students say there is good reason and global precedent to drop the voting age from 18 to 16.

Reece Newman and Savannah Rudkin, both 16, spoke to CFJC News about the idea.

"It started off just as a school project (exploring) why it would be a good idea, and just escalated from there," said Newman. "We wrote a bill, wrote about why it should be lowered. It just flowered from there."

"By the age of 16, most parents (say), 'Okay, probably time to get your first job, you're expected to pay taxes sometimes, and you're able to begin driving," added Rudkin. "I don't understand why all of these important milestones in our lives are there but voting isn't."

While the idea was first discussed in the social studies class, Newman says it has been gaining broader support in the school.    

"I find a lot of students are actually on board with this because of what is expected of 16 year olds already."

Rudkin isn't worried that 16 year olds are too uneducated about political issues and parties to cast an informed vote.

"Honestly, everybody has a different opinion about every party, so it's going to be different, but I feel like we're mature enough to know to make the right decisions. It's our future; we have to plan it right."

Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver recently floated a bill calling on the province to lower the voting age to 16.

If adopted, BC would not be the first jurisdiction to make the change.

Scotland allowed voters as young as 16 to cast ballots in its 2014 independence referendum, and found it so successful, it made the change permanent for all future parliamentary and local votes.

"If we were able to vote, I feel like it would make a very, very big change in the way people see us as 16 year old and this generation," said Rudkin. "I feel like they would be a lot more educated about how well educated we are; that we're not just 16 year olds, just kids anymore."

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