• Caroline Jonah

Why Not Let Students Vote?

With the Canadian federal election less than a month away and support fairly even between NDP, the Liberals and the Conservatives, it is clear that most politically engaged Canadians are anxious for October 19th, when they will cast their votes into the ballot boxes. However, amongst these voters will not be the majority of the students at Citadel High School, or anyone under the age of eighteen years old.

My question is why? Why put an age restriction on one of the most important civil rights in our country? Some people may argue that the concept of everyone voting is nice, but rationally speaking teenagers and children don’t know enough about politics to vote, don’t care enough to vote, or would only vote for who their parents vote for.

The funny thing about these arguments though, is that they are essentially the same ones that were used against women when they fought for the right to vote. That they would only vote for who their husbands voted for, so it wouldn’t make a difference, and that women were too emotional to make a decision like electing a prime minister. Most people agree these arguments are not rational; they are sexist. By that logic, wouldn’t that make having a legal voting age a form of discrimination as well?

I honestly believe that the students at Citadel are independent thinkers, who are well informed about politics and other current events today, enough so that they are more than capable of voting. This is probably the case in other high schools in Canada too. But even if some of the students at Citadel don’t care about politics, they still have the right to vote. That is because they can work at ages 15-16, which means that, given that they make enough money per year, they may have to pay taxes. If you pay taxes and can’t vote, that’s taxation without representation. Which is kind of a big deal; it caused a revolution.

As well as paying taxes, many students at Citadel drive. They use the roads in Halifax, so they should have a say on infrastructure in our country. Not to mention it’s a little bizarre that our country trusts sixteen year olds to drive, but not to vote.

Though many people do believe that sixteen year olds absolutely have the right to vote, and are being robbed of that right, I don’t see why there should be any age restriction at all. If a twelve year old is passionate a political party, how does anyone have the right to tell them that they don’t know what they’re talking about, or that their opinion isn’t relevant? Because that’s essentially what an age restriction on voting is saying.

Sure, the age demographic of infant to eighteen probably wouldn’t have a very high voter turnout, especially since some in that demographic wouldn’t actually be able to reach the ballot box, but why not give a few more Canadians voices during the election. They live in this country just as much as adults do, and at the rate that adults vote, Canada could use all the extra votes it can get.