Nelson – Local youth joined MLA Michelle Mungall on their lunch breaks today to show their support for legislation that would lower the age at which voters can first register with Elections B.C. The private member’s bill that would lower the voter registration age to 16 years old was introduced in the Legislature on March 11 by Official Opposition Leader Adrian Dix. The legislation is intended to encourage greater political participation and voter turnout among young people.
Students from L.V Rogers Secondary School and Self Design High joined Mungall for lunch at her community office to learn more about the Promoting Youth Vote Act and to discuss youth participation in democracy.
“We have to end the vicious circle in which young people don’t vote because they don’t see their issues reflected in the debate, which in turn makes our politics even less likely to take young people’s concerns seriously,” said Mungall who in addition to representing Nelson-Creston also serves as the critic for Advanced Education, Youth and Labour Market Development.
As few as one in five voters between the ages of 18 and 25 are registered to vote, and of those registered, they have the lowest voter turn-out. The Promoting Youth Vote Act will give young people the opportunity to provisionally register to vote after they turn 16, and allow Elections BC to begin engaging them so they they know what to do when they turn 18.
In 2011, Keith Archer, the Chief Electoral Officer of British Columbia recommended lowering the age of voter registration as a means to increase voter turnout. His recommendation comes at a time when many other jurisdictions, such as Florida, Oregon, Hawaii, and California, are taking this action and having positive results.
Taavi Wickman-Ratthe, a student at Nelson’s L. V. Rogers is pleased with the bill. He says, ”This plan shows a positive step toward engaging young people so that when they are of the age to vote, they will be more informed and prepared about enacting their right.”
“Ensuring young people are engaged in the democratic process is imperative,” says Mungall. “The Promoting Youth Vote Act will help keep young people involved so that their voices can be heard.”
2013 Legislative Session: 5th Session, 39th Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.
MR. ADRIAN DIX
BILL M 209 – 2013
PROMOTING YOUTH VOTE ACT, 2013
HER MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia, enacts as follows:
1. Section 1 of the Election Act, RSBC 1996 c.106 is amended by adding the following definition:
“provisional voter registration” means the voluntary registration of individuals aged at least 16 and only becoming an active registration on an individual’s 18th birthday.
2. Section 31 is amended by adding the following subsection:
(3) An individual who
(a) is at least 16 years of age; and
(b) otherwise meets all eligibility requirements to vote
may register on a provisional basis and that provisional voter registration, pursuant to this subsection, shall be deemed effective as of the date the individual turns 18 years of age
(i) If the information in the provisional registration is still current at that time.
(ii) If the information provided in the provisional registration is not current at the time that the registration would otherwise become effective, for his or her registration to become effective, the individual shall provide the current information to Elections BC.
This bill amends the Election Act in response to a 2011 recommendation made by the Chief Electoral Officer of British Columbia to increase youth participation in provincial elections by allowing provisional voter registration of individuals when they are 16 years of age.