FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 5, 2018
A bill to lower the voting age to 16 in Ontario elections was tabled today by Arthur Potts, Member of Provincial Parliament for the riding of Beaches-East York. The Private Members’ Bill – Bill 202, entitled Election Amendment Act (Voter Eligibility), 2018 - proposes to amend the Elections Act to lower the age for persons to be eligible to vote in an election to the Legislative Assembly from 18 to 16.
A number of jurisdictions around the world have lowered the voting ages in order to increase engagement. When the voting age was lowered to 16 in Scotland, prior to their Independence Referendum, youth turnout soared to 75%. Countries such as Austria (since 2007), Argentina (since 2012) and Brazil have already taken this progressive step forward, lowering the voter age to 16.
More recently, the activism of high school students in the United States following a spate of school shootings has demonstrated that high school youth have the capacity and a willingness to engage in the political process.
In Ontario’s political system, young people can already become a member of a political party at the age of 14 – and in doing so can help shape the political platforms and choose the party candidates that will ultimately form government. Many are actively engaged in fashioning party policy, yet don’t have the right to vote on who will represent them in the Legislature.
Engaging youth and improving the lives of all Ontarians is part of Ontario's plan to create fairness and equal opportunity for all. The plan includes a higher minimum wage, better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.
“In late January, reducing the voting age was raised as an issue at a meeting of young Liberals in my riding because they do not feel their views are reflected in government policies and party platforms.
By age 16 many young Ontarians are paying income as well as sales taxes. We trust them to drive, to coach and referee our children and to run camps and programs. It’s time to trust them to vote.
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 and family engagement that will help ensure high registration, interest and participation. This Bill is a first important step in making a lower voting age a reality.”
- Arthur Potts, MPP for Beaches-East York
TO VIEW THE BILL:
Dave Bellmore, Office of MPP Potts. 416.527.3982 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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