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Kamloops high schoolers lobbying to lower voting age

Sean Weller, 17, is one of the students pushing for Canada's voting age to be lowered.
May 14, 2016 - 2:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - Students at Westsyde Secondary School in Kamloops have been working to lower the voting age in Canada from 18 years of age to 16. 

The students began the lobbying effort after a class project began to imitate reality. Now they’re contacting politicians on Twitter, writing letters and creating memes in an effort to change the law.

Sean Weller, 17, says a lot of his peers already have jobs and are contributing to the community, so he thinks they should have a say in who leads the country.

“We’re expected to have jobs,” he says. “We should have the right to be able to vote on who’s leading us.”

Jakob Schmientenknop, 16, agrees people his age are paying income tax, so they should have a say about who represents them in government.

“If you’re able to drive you should know how to vote,” Schmientenknop says, adding students would use the ability to vote for issues around town that impact them directly.

Saylyn Olson, 16, says lowering the voting age to 16 is appropriate because they’re already learning about politics in school.

“We do vote projects,” she says. “Then we actually get a taste of voting. Everybody gets interested.”

The students take Jeremy Reid’s social studies classes at Westsyde Secondary and he says the project started when he was teaching them about democracy and voting. When they discussed voting ages, the majority of students agreed it should be lowered. 

To teach about how legislation works he had students write their own about lowering the voting age.

Reid says as they were writing the legislation they found out B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver was presenting a bill to the legislature and he was suggesting "pretty much" the same changes the students had come up with.

He says his students have received a tweet from local Liberal MLA and Health Minister Terry Lake suggesting the class should call him, though he says they aren’t sure how to proceed yet.

“They’re thinking about it,” Reid says. “I’m leaving this up to the students, I don’t want to make decisions on where we go with this completely.”

A similar bill has been proposed by NDP MP Don Davies in the House of Commons, he says, so it worked out as a good subject with which to engage students.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brendan Kergin or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
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