New Brunswickers under the age of 18 won’t be voting in a provincial election just yet.
The provincial government said in a release Monday they would not be acting on a recommendation by the province’s Commission for Electoral Reform to lower the voting age to 16.
“While the electoral reform commission made strong arguments in favour of lowering the voting age to 16, we have heard strong arguments against this recommendation,” said Health Minister Victor Boudreau in the release.
In the report released earlier this month, changing the voting age was recommended as a way to increase participation and to remove “barriers to entry for under-represented groups” such as youth, according to Sue Duguay with the Federation des jeunes francophones du N.B.
It was one of 24 sweeping recommendations made to how people vote in the province, including a preferential ballot, lowering the limit on political contributions and allowing 16 year olds to run for office as long as they’ve obtained a high school diploma.
Department of Finance numbers show 28,478 New Brunswickers will turn 16 between 2018 and 2022.
According to the release, residents aged 16 and 17 may still get a chance as there will be a referendum held during the municipal elections scheduled for May 2020.
“Precedent currently exists in New Brunswick and across Canada to hold a referendum on the question of lowering the voting age, and we will follow that precedent,” Boudreau said.
Voting age in the province originally was 21 before a referendum was held in October 1967 to lower it to 18. The voting age did change to 18 in 1971.
New Brunswick’s next provincial election is scheduled for Sept. 24, 2018.
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