Arthur Potts wants to get young Canadians voting as soon as possible. The Toronto Liberal MPP announced Monday that he plans to bring forward a bill that would lower the Ontario voting age from 18 to 16. While he won’t have time before the June 7 provincial election to introduce and debate it, Potts has vowed to bring it forth afterwards, should his district seek to reelect him.
Potts reasoned that since 16-year-olds can drive and work, they should be permitted — and expected — to participate in the decisions that govern those activities. The change would also jive better with the fact that you can become a member of a political party at the age of 14.
I believe we need to get youth more involved in the political process and doing so at age 16 will provide a mix of school structure & family engagement that ensures high registration, interest & participation. This Bill is an important 1st step. https://t.co/cKdcf0y2j9 pic.twitter.com/CPXU9SFgV7
— Arthur Potts (@apottsmpp) March 5, 2018
Lowering the voting age could have positive impacts on voter turnout as well and turn it into a life-long habit while citizens are still in high school. Teens are already required to take a civics course in school, and voting before graduation means young people can ask questions of their teachers and receive encouragement from the school to care about and vote on political issues. While still in a school environment, kids will be exposed to issues that they might not otherwise be motivated to seek out on their own after graduation.
16YOs work while in school.
They make transportation choices.
They make post-secondary choices.
They make health choices.
Yet they are not allowed to participate in the process that affects these choices?
— Kevin Montgomery (@kemosite) March 5, 2018
Potts also points out that young people have the most at stake when it comes to issues like climate change. Teens will have to live in the world a whole lot longer than the grey-haired politicians who are currently making the environmental regulations that will have long-lasting implications on our world.
With the current surge of youth getting involved in politics — especially in the U.S. — Potts says he “can’t imagine a downside” when it comes to getting youth involved in the electoral process. Canada wouldn’t even be the first country to make a change to allow younger teens to vote. Argentina and Scotland lowered their federal voting ages to 16 in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
“I think they’re quite capable of making a reasoned choice for a political party,” Potts said at a news conference, “We are demanding more from our youth than we ever have before. We expect more from them and their studies. Let’s give them more responsibility to fulfill.”
No one has the best interests of the next generation at heart like the next generation.
‘Old enough to drive, ‘old enough to vote.
— Barry Hunt (@BarryHunt008) March 5, 2018