NDP MP Don Davies has introduced a bill to lower the voting age to 16.
“Originally the voting age was 21," Davies explains. "It was restricted to men, gradually women got the vote, First Nations got the vote, we lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 and I think it’s time to lower it to 16.”
Comparing women’s suffrage to the voting age is an absurd apples-to-carrots comparison. There's a difference between extending equal rights to all citizens, but requiring that voters have the appropriate maturity and understanding to make complex socio-economic decisions when marking a ballot.
There’s no sound argument for not letting women vote.
There is however a pretty good reason that we don’t allow children to vote.
To answer the question: “Why does Don Davies want the voting age lowered to 16?”, we have to look at two more broad questions:
1) What existing problem is this trying to solve?
2) Is lowering the voting age the best solution to that problem?
Davies says that “lowering the voting age will set the tone for young people to continue voting throughout their lives.
Davies really answers both questions here. According to him, the problem is voter turnout. His solution is lowering the voter age, getting even younger teens to mark the ballot, and thus setting precedent for them to continue doing so their entire lives.
This is complete rubbish as I will get to in a minute, but first, Davies explains that that he’s visited numerous high schools in Vancouver and “the average 16- and 17-year-old I talked to is very engaged, very interested in the world around them and they have a stake in it.”
By this of course, Davies means that he met a bunch of teenagers who were “feeling the bern” -- that is to say, have embraced the warm, coddling embrace of socialism, and agree with every nuanced left-wing policy that Davies subscribes to.
Not surprising, as Vancouver hasn’t elected a Conservative mayor since 1938.
In any event, I would argue that Davies’ underlying agenda has nothing to do with simply “setting a tone for young people to continue voting through their lives”, but to increase votes for the Left.
And the data supports this claim. Here are the votes for the last two elections, broken down by age group.
As you can clearly see, the Liberals and New Democrats do far better among young voters than the Conservatives. In 2011, the NDP absolutely dominated the youth demographic, while strategic voting in 2015 swung the entire youth vote into the Liberal Party.
In fact, some Liberal Party MPs have already voiced support for Davies’ efforts to lower the voting age. Shocker.
Young voters are less likely to understand the difference between "being compassionate" with one’s own hard earned money, and "being compassionate" with someone else’s. Young voters are far more likely to support proposals from the Left such as increased entitlement programs, higher minimum wage, rent control, without considering the short and long term economic outcomes of such programs.
In other words, young voters are more likely to base their decisions a policy's intentions, rather than its real world results.
Thus, the notion that Davies, the Left-wing MP from Vancouver, wants to increase voter participation for the good of country is just untrue.
He wants more votes for the left, and he wants to keep conservatives out of Ottawa.
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