A BILL introduced by the Australian Greens in the House of Representatives today (October 21) seeks to have 16-year-olds voting in the 2020 ACT election.
If the Bill, introduced by Australian Greens MP Adam Bandt, is passed, it would mean, based on data from the last census, about 8500 16 and 17-year-olds would be able to vote in the 2020 ACT election.
ACT Greens spokesperson Caroline Le Couteur says that the international “School Strikers for Climate Action” made clear that young people want to be more engaged than ever in the decisions that will shape their future.
“If young people wish to take part in our democracy, the Greens think they should have that opportunity,” she says.
“That’s why we’re advocating for young Canberrans aged 16 and 17 to be given a chance to vote before they reach the age of 18 – to ensure their voices are heard where it matters most: at the ballot box.
“Sixteen and 17-year-olds can legally work full-time. If they are working, they pay taxes. They can drive a car, have sex and make medical decisions about their bodies. They can join the Army, Navy or Air Force. They can sign a lease, or join a political party – yet they can’t vote.”
Ms Le Le Couteur says there are about 10 countries around the world that have lowered the voting age, and all of these show an increase in participation. In Austria, where voting was lowered to 16 a decade ago, she says elections have shown that 16 to 18-year-olds vote at higher rates than 18 to 25-year-olds.