A Mayday for democracy: Elizabeth May introduces bill to lower the voting age to 16

May 01, 2018
(OTTAWA) — “The future of democracy belongs to the next generation”, said Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands), as she announced her intention to introduce a bill to lower the age of voting to 16. Her private member’s bill to amend the Canadian Elections Act to lower the voting age from 18 to 16 will be tabled in the House of Commons today.

“My Green Party colleagues in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and British Columbia have introduced similar bills. In fact, March 2018 was the third time Andrew Weaver had done so in B.C.,” said Ms. May. “Green parties across the country understand that the future of democracy belongs to the next generation. That’s why we must lower the voting age and empower them as soon as possible.”

Research shows that voting habits and political engagement endure when started at a young age. “If you haven’t voted by the time you’re 20, you risk becoming a permanent political dropout,” said Ms. May. “Register and vote when you’re 16 or 17, and you’ll probably vote for life.

“And political engagement is not just about voting. It’s running for office, working at a polling station, getting involved at the local, grass-roots level. There are many ways of being a citizen, and it’s never too early to start building the necessary skills. Voting is just the first step.” Sixteen year olds vote in Scotland, Argentina, Austria and Brazil, resulting in higher levels of participation.