16-year-olds don’t have the brains to vote

Current neural research indicates that the brain does not fully develop until the age of around 25.

16-year-olds don’t have the brains to vote

Elizabeth May’s recent suggestion that 16-year-olds should be eligible to vote federally is an example of a suggestion that is both wrong headed and potentially dangerous. I have seen this suggestion before from politicians of her stripe and even from readers of the Citizen who have erroneously put forth the same idea. Those of us who have spent long periods of time caring for or educating, children (and a 16-year-old is a child) or youths know that giving them the franchise would be extremely unwise, not to say disastrous.

Current neural research indicates that the brain does not fully develop until the age of around 25. The brain of a 16-year-old has an undeveloped prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that controls rational thought. From this perspective, granting voting rights to 18-year-olds is risky enough, but at least they have sometimes left home, have had to deal with some level of responsibility and are beginning to meet the challenges of adult life.

May claims that giving the vote to 16-year-olds will “refresh, restart and reboot” our democracy and make it healthier. Our democracy doesn’t need to be “rebooted” and it is already healthy. We already have all the established democratic institutions we need, time tested and revered by all who understand them, such as parliamentary government, the Bill of Rights and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We just have to stay true to them and enact their principles when we need to. A flood of 16-year-old voters is not going to improve on those principles, especially since the majority of them may not even fully understand them.

So why does May want this? If we are honest we know why. Youth almost unfailingly lean left. Those of us who have worked with them understand this. May, like the Trudeau Liberals, is after an easily controllable voting block. That block, for her, is best represented by a mass 16-year-old voters. She may talk about “renewing” Canadian society, but the truth is she is just trying to expand her voting base.

Perry Foster



Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The organizers of the annual 39 days of July festival hope to return to live shows in Charles Hoey Park this year, like in this photo taken in 2019, but audiences at the show may be limited to 50 people due to health protocols. (File photo)
39 Days of July hoping for outdoor events in Duncan this summer

Annual music festival will run from June 25 to Aug. 2 this year

Cowichan Valley WildSafeBC coordinator Amanda Crowston teaches a Grade 5/6 class at Ecole Cobble Hill last fall. (Submitted)
The bears are back in town and so is WildSafeBC

The bears are back in town so keep an eye out, reminds… Continue reading

The Regional District of Nanaimo has its sights set on busing to the Cowichan Valley in time for March 2022. (News Bulletin file)
Bus link between Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley expected by next March

Unallocated transit hours already in Regional District of Nanaimo budget

North Cowichan has heated exchange over timelines of its official community plan review. (File photo)
North Cowichan’s OCP review divides council

Tight timelines leads to heated debate

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

The majority of city council votes in favour of this design for a new Salmon Arm flag on Monday, May 10, 2021. (City of Salmon Arm image)
Majority of council salutes new flag for Salmon Arm

Two councillors raise concerns about logo being too corporate for a flag

B.C. doctors could face consequences for spreading COVID misinformation: college

College says doctors have a higher level of responsibility to not spread incorrect information

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau receives his COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccination in Ottawa, Friday, April 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
75% of Canadians need 1st vaccine dose to have more normal summer: Trudeau

The country is on track to hit a major milestone on the road to COVID-19 herd immunity Tuesday, with 40% vaccinated with a 1st dose

A black bear, dubbed Huckleberry by Deep Cove, B.C., residents died on July 31, 2020, after becoming conditioned to food and humans. (North Shore Black Bear Society photo)
Fewer dead bears, more fines: Advocates call for B.C. conservation officer reform

B.C. Bear Alliance wants to see body cameras on conservation officers after more than 600 black bears were killed this past year

Minister of Health Patty Hajdu responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Drug users were shut out of Vancouver’s decriminalization proposal, critics say, demanding redo

The coalition is asking the city to raise the proposed drug thresholds from a 3-day supply

David and Julie Kaplan with their children Estelle and Justin. (Special to The News)
COVID-19 border closure stops B.C. family’s cross-country move

Maple Ridge couple, two kids, turned away at New Brunswick border

Kelowna RCMP precinct. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna RCMP reviewing rough arrest after video shared on social media

The video shows an officer punching a man while arresting him for allegedly driving a stolen car

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
B.C. to provide three days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Most Read