With participation in elections declining at every level, B.C.’s new chief elections officer wants to extend voter registration to 16-year-olds while they are in high school.
We think this is an excellent idea.
Young voters can be the most passionate, idealistic force for change we have in our society — but only if they cast ballots.
The Salmon Arm municipal election mirrored those across the province, where the voters were far more likely to be sporting grey hair and crow’s feet than the latest Nike sneakers or Lululemon gear. Currently, the lowest level of voter participation is in the 18-to-25 age group.
By pre-registering teens, and helping them to prepare for voting through high school classes, the demographics could turn around.
Many of the city council candidates talk about wanting to help young people and growing families, and yet it is difficult to engage this age group, to find out what exactly they would like to see happen in their city and then have that translate into ballots in the box.
Another important component is developing alternate forms of voting, especially online ballots. Young people are living in a wired world, interacting through Facebook and iPhones. One of the best ways to reach them would be a computerized voting system. Indeed this could boost voting across the board, as the convenience factor could encourage larger participation among all ages. While democracy is hardly outdated, it is time to bring voting policies more in line with today’s realities.