Canada should not change the voting age


[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n a recent Peak article titled “5 reasons why we should lower Canada’s voting age,” while Ms. Tamara Connor was correct to state that there isn’t a magic age of preparedness for voting, this isn’t a proper reason to lower the voting age, but rather more a reason to increase voter education, so young people do eventually feel prepared.

As a society, we deny youth many things because they simply aren’t ready for the responsibility — credit cards, driver’s and marriage licenses, access to alcohol, and the like. Some people still aren’t ready even after they reach the age at which they are legally allowed to take on these responsibilities.

I find this happens more often with voting than with anything else. Unfortunately, many of my friends chose not to vote in the last federal election because they didn’t know how elections worked, or claimed they would ‘joke vote’ because they didn’t know who they should vote for.

I asked my 17-year-old sister during the election who she would vote for and why. She responded with Harper because, “Dad is voting for him, and Harper isn’t going to let people kill babies.” In other words, my 17-year-old sister would vote for whoever her father told her to, and did not realize that abortion is still legal in Canada after 10 years of the Harper government. My sister also achieves A grades as a grade 12 student.

Moreover, to say that ageism is the same as racism or sexism is a bit of a leap. This is mainly because ageism has actual scientific basis. According to NPR’s website, our brains may not reach full maturity until we are around 25 years old. Until then they are developing, which is one of the reasons why teenagers may not have the decision-making capabilities and understanding that a mature brain does. Also, it’s worthy to note that young people will become legally capable voters within a few years, and will not be stuck with a lifetime of having no option to vote.

While Ms. Connor was correct in pointing out that young people have the highest stake in the game, this stake is meant to be protected by their parents who vote for the best candidate to ensure their child’s future, since they have a better understanding of finances and the ways of political life.

It is also meant to be protected by the young adults who vote for their first time, in attempting to ensure that when their younger siblings and cousins are of voting age, they will less likely face the same rising tuition costs, tight job market prospects, and other societal problems.

Allowing teenagers to vote is not the answer to Canada’s political problems. Younger voters will not lead to a better democracy. Proper education and understanding will, and this does start with our youth. It starts with our youth asking questions in their high school courses, learning more about our government structure rather than only the bare bones minimum that it takes to get through the provincial exam.

It starts with young people choosing to actively understand our politics before they even have a chance to participate, and with them doing their homework on issues that affect them now so they will know exactly who to vote for when they’re fully mature.