VICTORIA, B.C. – Democracy in British Columbia moved a step towards increased accessibility for youth today with the introduction of the Elections Amendment Act, which lowers the age of optional registration to 16 years old.
“The B.C. Greens made lowering the voting age to 16 as part of our 2017 platform because the evidence is clear: the earlier a voter casts their first ballot, the more likely they are to make voting a lifelong habit,” said B.C. Green MLA Sonia Furstenau for Cowichan Valley. “Our democracy is strongest when informed citizens engage in the governance process.
“Creating systems that allow for the registration of 16 and 17 year-olds will lower barriers for first-time voters who come of age, ensuring they are already on Election BC lists and able to be contacted with the information they need. There is a positive correlation between being registered to vote before General Voting Day and the act of voting itself.
“Youth today are very cognizant that they are the ones who will ultimately live with the ramifications of the choices being made by their elected officials. We see them gather by the tens of thousands in climate strikes, and we applaud their efforts. They are not cynical or ‘checked out;’ they believe in the role of government to safeguard the wellbeing of society and to be accountable to the people. British Columbia’s youth deserve a voice in their future. Registration is a good first step, and we will continue to advocate for the voting age to be lowered to 16.”
MLA Andrew Weaver introduced legislation to lower the voting age to 16 three times, most recently in March 2018.
The Union of B.C. Municipalities passed a resolution in September calling on the province to amend the minimum voting age in local government elections to 16 years.
Elections BC reported during the 2017 election 18-24 year-olds had a higher turnout than both 25-34 and 35-44 year-olds.