Victoria – New Democrat leader Adrian Dix introduced legislation that will lower the age at which voters can first register with Elections B.C. to 16. The legislation is intended to encourage greater political participation and voter turnout among young people.
“The Promoting Youth Vote Act will give young people the opportunity to pre-register to vote after they turn 16. It acts on the advice of Keith Archer, the Chief Electoral Officer of British Columbia: in 2011, he recommended lowering the age of voter registration as a means to increase voter turnout,” said Dix.
The Act would allow the non-partisan Elections B.C., in cooperation with schools and other public institutions, to promote pre-registration among British Columbians who are 16 and 17.
“Mr. Archer has noted that eligible voters who are 18 to 25 are more difficult to contact for registration purposes. Furthermore, the evidence shows that young people who are registered to vote are more likely to make their voices heard at election time—and that’s something we should encourage,” stressed Dix.
As few as one in five voters between the ages of 18 and 25 are registered to vote, making them the demographic that is least likely to cast their ballot on election day.
“We need to work harder to engage young people if we want democracy to be relevant to them,” said Dix. “That in part means practical steps like making registration earlier and easier. It also means making politics more relevant to them.”
“We have to end the vicious circle in which young people don’t vote because they don’t see their issues reflected in the debate, which in turn makes our politics even less likely to take young people’s concerns seriously,” said New Democrat advanced education critic Michelle Mungall.
“The latest Liberal budget is a case in point. It cuts the budget for advanced education and skills training and offers no help to young people who are struggling to afford the training they need to succeed in a twenty-first century economy.”
“It’s long past time to take action to reverse the trend towards decreasing voter turnout. I'm bringing forward this legislation as part of my commitment to bring change for the better, one practical step at a time,” said Dix.