November 26, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Youth applaud BCFED resolution to lower the voting age
VANCOUVER – Democratic reform advocates are celebrating a vote by BC Federation of Labour delegates to support lowering the voting age in British Columbia. The resolution passed by a wide margin Thursday morning, making the BCFED the latest labour organization to endorse the Vote16BC campaign.
This comes after months of hard work from a youth-led outreach team, which has secured nine official endorsements from union locals and labour councils, as well as support in principle from the BC Teachers’ Federation. The group has scheduled meetings next with BCPSAC and CUPE BC.
“I see youth, 16 and 17 years old, working and paying taxes without any democratic representation, which really upsets me,” said Vote16BC volunteer Diego Christiansen-Barker. “I’m glad to see labour show so much support for young workers, especially grocery clerks, cashiers and food service employees doing essential work in a pandemic.”
16 and 17-year-olds in B.C. can work, drive a car, join the military or even get married with parental consent, but do not have the right to vote. In 1992 the B.C. government lowered the voting age from 19 to 18. High school students, supported by a broad coalition of democratic reform advocates, are asking them to do it again.
Last year BC NDP members passed a policy resolution in favour of lowering the voting age, as did BC Green members. The campaign also received a resolution of support from the Union of BC Municipalities, and has collected thousands of petition signatures from the public.
“Some people say youth are not mature enough to be trusted with a ballot. Or that we’ll simply vote the way our parents tell us to. This was the same argument made a century ago against letting women vote,” said Christiansen-Barker. “Voting is a fundamental right, and people whose lives are shaped by government decisions should have a say.”
The Vote16BC campaign is calling on B.C. MLAs to make this simple change to the Election Act before the next provincial election. The move would add roughly 100,000 people to the voters’ list, after an election in October that saw historic low turnout.
Vote 16 BC was started two years ago by a group of youth. Our goal is to lower the voting age to 16 in B.C. The campaign has received endorsements from ten labour organizations including the BC Federation of Labour, as well as resolutions of support at the Union of B.C. Municipalities Convention, the BC NDP Convention and the BC Green Convention.
Find out more at www.vote16bc.ca
We would be happy to arrange interviews with members of the Vote16BC team. Please contact Diego to schedule this.
Endorsement team lead, Vote16BC