If you are 16 years old and pay taxes, you should be able to vote, says Coun. Ned Taylor in supporting efforts to lower the voting age.
“These youth are forced to pay taxes without representation,” said Taylor. “If you pay taxes, if you contribute to the government and the programs that are being funded by government, you should have a say in where those tax dollars are going.”
Taylor made this and other points in support of Mira Blakely, a Grade 9 student at Taylor’s old high school, Reynolds. Blakely launched a petition last year that calls on British Columbia to lower the voting age to 16 from 18, a demand that Taylor has also made.
Taylor, who himself is still a teenager at 19, said lowering the voting age is about legitimizing decisions that senior politicians make today on behalf of future generations.
“Politicians are making decisions that are going to have long-term impacts, and young people have to have a voice at the table,” he said. “If you look at economic issues, if you look at social issues, if you look at environmental issues and climate change, these are really all issues that are going to have a greater impact on young people in the long term than anybody else.”
Not unlike Blakely, Taylor pushed for a lower voting age, when he was still in school and while on the municipal campaign trail.
The issue does enjoy local support. Local MLA Andrew Weaver, who is also leader of the B.C. Greens, has pushed for a lower voting age. A number of other jurisdictions have also lowered the voting age to 16.
Taylor acknowledges that it might be difficult to change the voting age, even on the municipal level, a creature of the provincial government.
This said, he might bring forward some action, while promising to keep in the public’s mind.
“What we can do is put pressure on senior levels of government as local politicians, and for me as a young person, who is in elected office, I want to be able to support my peers, young people, to show to the provincial government that this is an issue on people’s mind. Young people want to vote, and if they were given the opportunity, they would vote in high numbers.”