Westsyde Secondary students advocate for lower voting age

After taking part in the federal Student Vote last fall, students at Westsyde Secondary School in Kamloops, British Columbia got a “taste of voting” that led them to pursue a project of their own.

Students in Jeremy Reid’s Social Studies 11 class began by learning about democracy and the voting process. When they learned that the voting age in Canada was 18, most students agreed that it should be lowered to 16.

Reid encouraged students to draft their own legislation to address their concerns, and they learned that Green Party leader and Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Andrew Weaver was about to introduce bill M229, which if passed would lower the voting age in BC to 16.

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We asked students from the class to share their experience so far:

“Recently our class’s interest was sparked on the subject of lowering the voting age to 16. One day we were doing a project on compulsory voting throughout the world and the subject of 16 year olds voting came up. This started a long discussion on whether or not it was a good idea for 16 year olds to vote and, after some debate, the majority of the class was all for it. So far, during our research on lowering the voting age, we have made a few short videos on the pros and cons of it, we have made plenty of internet memes and have even had news articles written, in order to promote our case. But not everyone is for lowering the voting age. In fact, most adults that have learned about what we are doing have voiced their displeasure on the subject, saying things like ‘they don’t have the common sense,’ or ‘to set such a young age on something this important seems dangerous.’ One person even went as far to say that Mr. Weaver himself is being immature for trying to lower the voting age. A local political scientist, Mr. Pillar, commented saying politics is too boring for young people, and one of the main reasons why kids my age don’t bother listening to politics is because politicians don’t take the younger demographic seriously enough to bother saying things that affect us. If the voting age was lowered to 16, it would force politicians to take our thoughts into account. The next big step we need to take to further action on the bill is to get more politicians on our side and make Bill M229 a reality for the near  future.”
-Grade 11 student Parker

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“We were inspired to have the voting age lowered to 16 because we were learning about politics, and within our government unit, we did a few projects where we looked at studies done by students. The data they collected said if people started voting at a lower age they develop a habit of continuing to vote. In our eyes that seemed to fix the current problem of our age group not voting. As far as the steps we see for the future, we have an appointment to visit our local MLA about the issue and explain our side of the story. In local media, there were comments from people who frown upon the thought of us voting but they are not the ones who should decide our future; we are the leaders of our tomorrow.”
-Grade 11 students Nayab, Savannah and Reece

The class will provide an update on their project after meeting with Terry Lake, the MLA for their local riding of Kamloops-North Thompson, next week. Stay tuned for more!

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