Wooing the young for their vote

Young British Columbians are getting a lot of attention these days from the political elite.

Young British Columbians are getting a lot of attention these days from the political elite.

The use of various social media forms so popular with the younger crowd has skyrocketed as candidates running for the respective leadership of the ruling B.C. Liberals and the opposition New Democrats are hitting the campaign trail in the search for memberships and votes.

Mike de Jong, who is running for premier in seeking the leadership of the B.C. Liberals, wants to take a seemingly more radical step.

He wants to lower the voting age to 16 from 18 to counter declining turnout, a proposal supported by two of his rivals, Kevin Falcon and George Abbott, both of whom have their own ideas to reach more disinterested and dissatisfied citizens, including younger voters, through measures such as online voting.

All this lavish attention should make the hearts of young British Columbians, forgive the pun, go all a-twitter.

Melissa Stathers, who attends Grade 12 at Summerland Secondary School, certainly does not mind this outreach by the political class.

She supports plans to lower the voting age.

The group of British Columbians who would become eligible to vote under de Jong’s proposal deserve the recognition in light of their contributions to the economy and society of British Columbia.

“We (under the current voting age) pay taxes,” said Stathers. “We work and courts start to recognize young people as adults. So why shouldn’t we be allowed to vote?”

A handful of other countries have already taken that step.

Ecuador became the latest jurisdiction to lower its voting age to 16 in 2008, joining recent converts Austria (2007) and Brazil, where the age of eligibility dropped to 16 in 1988.

Perhaps it’s time in Canada for people to become full-engaged citizens at an earlier age.

Kelowna Capital News