The voting age should be lowered to allow students to vote in school board elections, according to one MLA.
Yellowknife North MLA Rylund Johnson read quotes from an essay by Raven Mutford, a student at École Sir John Franklin, advocating for the voting age to be lowered.
“Many 16-year-olds have jobs, and as a result, pay taxes,” he read in the Legislative Assembly on Friday.
“That alone is a valid argument: no taxation without representation,” he added. “There is a perception of apathy among teenagers, lowering the voting age would fix this. If teenagers really are prone to rebel around the age of 16, we’d see them research against their parents’ points of view and lead to them making decisions of their own.”
Johnson suggested allowing students to vote for their school board representatives starting at the age of 16, as these elections impact students the most.
“This isn’t something that’s currently on the radar, but I’m not opposed to the idea,” said Simpson. “I think that it’s not a bad idea, actually, to allow having 16-year-olds vote for school board reps.”
Johnson cited the positive impact lowering the voting age can have on voter turnout for young people, and can have a knock-on effect for voting for their parents.
Similar rule changes have already been made in Scotland and Germany where teenagers vote in municipal elections. Sixteen year-olds in Austria can vote in all elections.
Simspon noted would be extra costs involved and logistical challenges.
The voter lists from school board elections are shared with municipalities for municipal elections so they can verify who is allowed to vote, but teenagers aren’t eligible to vote in municipal elections. This would Minister Johnson said he would bring the issue up with education boards and NWT residents to see if there was support for the idea.