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Edmonton public school trustees vote ‘yes’ for youth voting

File/Global News

Earlier this week, Edmonton public school trustees voted overwhelmingly in favour of lobbying Alberta’s municipal affairs minister to lower the voting age.

They want the minister to amend the Local Authorities Act to extend voting rights to 16- and 17-year-olds.

READ MORE: Edmonton council narrowly supports backing request for province to consider lowering voting age to 16

Public school trustee Nathan Ip told 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen that youth are already engaged in adult activities, so voting wouldn’t be a stretch.

“Youth can drive and fly an airplane, and yet youth are not engaged in decisions that affect them,” Ip said.

“If you really look at it from that perspective, it seems to me that there isn’t a reason to exclude youth.”

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Ip said the same arguments used to oppose extending voting rights to youth today, were used to argue against womens’ sufferage in the early 20th century.

“Reasons were given, like women were too temperamental and couldn’t make rational decisions,” Ip said.

“Some of the reasoning around why youth aren’t ready to be involved can also be used to exclude other groups, and have, historically.”

Ip also said that any arguments against extending voting rights to youth, based upon political ideology, are not in the spirit of democracy.

“If we begin filtering [out] who is qualified to vote, simply because we may or may not agree with their position, I think that’s quite serious,” Ip said. “We have to be very mindful of that kind of talk.”

Ip said that engaging youth in the political process by allowing them to vote may help create lifelong voters and increase voter turnout in elections.