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Greens want optional vote for ‘junior’

By Indi - 17 February 2006 38

It would be interesting to see where the re-hashing of the debate goes concerning the right to vote and who has it – some would say there are a lot of younger people out there who are ‘itching’ to vote that may have more to contribute than the small percentage of donkey voters or non-voters who feel they have every right to whine, but never inform themselves enough to bother voting or care about how their vote impacts upon an election outcome.

I don’t know whether it is accidental or not but the Greens PR below seems to be an attempt to entice the ALP govt to place the matter on the agenda (again). I’m not sure if the Liberals have a policy on this, but if those in their mid-teens were allowed the choice to vote, I’d be pretty sure a lot of the vote would go to the Greens/ALP rather than the Libs.

ACT Greens MLA Dr Deb Foskey today placed a motion on the notice paper calling for the ACT Assembly to support 16 and 17 years old ACT residents voting Assembly elections and referendums. The motion is expected to be debated in March.

“The ACT Greens would like to see 16 and 17 year olds given the option to vote in ACT elections and referendums, given we have the highest percentage of young people of any state and territory” Dr Foskey said today.

“From the age of 16 many young people are working, paying taxes, starting to drive, living independently, and thinking about entering tertiary education. They should be given some power to decide which government policies they want to see impacting on their lives.”

“I acknowledge that while there are many 16 and 17 years olds who are politically informed and itching to have a say, there are many others who are not yet interested, which is why I’m suggesting an optional vote”.

“This initiative may also provide another method of encouraging our young people to enrol, especially those aged 18 to 24, for it would give them a greater lead-in time and access to more practical civic education”.

“I look forward to Government ALP support for this idea, as it is on the ACT Labor Party 2005/06 Policy Platform.”

“It wasn’t that long ago that women, Indigenous people, and 18 to 21 years olds were considered ineligible and perhaps not well enough informed to vote. I think it is time once again to reconsider who is capable of making such a decision.”

“The Chief Minister has previously stated that he intends to secure ACT prisoners right to vote in 2006. The ACT Greens would also like him to consider the electoral rights of young people” Dr Foskey said.

Tough choice, but if there was a need for choice I’d say give the option to vote to younger people, but hold the vote for those incacerated until they re-enter society and are capable of fully contributing.

What’s Your opinion?


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38 Responses to
Greens want optional vote for ‘junior’
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Indi 9:08 am 21 Feb 06

On further reflection about this topic, when considering doing Honours (which I dropped in favour of employment prospects) I had broached the topic of democratic process, elections and the prospects of extending the vote to younger people.

There is of course a rather complex stumbling block if you intend to ‘give’ the vote to those in their mid-teens. How exactly should we go about informing people about their rights and responsibilities, and in turn, have some form of education about the role of govt, opposition and the ideologies of political parties.

The question that was difficult to tackle was how could the education system provide an un-biased approach (in schools for example) to educating teenagers about politics without overtly influencing them?

The reality is, it is an impressionable period in life, and even though I think teenagers are capable of making some informed decisions, when it comes to politics, I’m hesitant to say it may not be the time to provide them with the compulsory right to vote.

Of interest though – at what age are people eligible to join a political party of any persuasion? A guess would lead me to suspect that it is possible to join a political party’s ‘youth wing’ in your mid-teens, but without voting rights at the polling booth.

Kerces 10:49 pm 20 Feb 06

But the GST isn’t an income tax; people pretty much accept these days that it’s just part of the price of living. You don’t have to lodge a form to the ATO telling them how much you’ve paid for groceries, how much you earn and if you should pay more or less GST.

bonfire 6:15 pm 20 Feb 06

everyone pays tax, its called a gst.

if the feeble minded juveniles i see clogging bus interchanges think they can contribute to public discourse i think i shall join prince leonard!

another stupid green left idea.

simto 4:27 pm 20 Feb 06

I’m pretty sure that 16 year olds are able to work, and get taxed. So, for a certain number of years, you do have taxation without representation.

Now, I’m not saying that that’s a definate arguement that sixteen year olds should be able to vote, but it’s an intriguing position to add to the mix…

johnboy 4:15 pm 20 Feb 06

optional vote for 16 to 18 yrs has been on greens policy, ACT and Australia wide, for several years

Optional voting for some, compulsory for others? Let the stacking begin!

Maelinar 1:37 pm 20 Feb 06

I think that the right to vote should be linked to the age you can join the military.

In simple terms, if you’re old enough to fight for your country, you’re old enough to vote, drink, root, watch horror movies and go to jail.

Roland GRNS 12:17 pm 20 Feb 06

optional vote for 16 to 18 yrs has been on greens policy, ACT and Australia wide, for several years; and was put on Labor Party Platform last year.

Indi 11:35 am 20 Feb 06

Beg pardon – The excerpt I quoted for those willing to follow up was from a speech that I found a link to when googling, I’m afraid I didn’t have the opportunity to put into practice the Harvard style of citation as the speech did not provide any further reference and as such would require contact with the person who delivered the speech to authenticate the verasity of such a quote:

http://www.foreignminister.gov.au/speeches/2006/060121_ylibs.html

Kerces 5:57 pm 19 Feb 06

Indi, the Harvard (author, date) style of citation is useless unless you also give us the full citation for the work you’re referencing.

Indi 1:11 pm 19 Feb 06

Jube the segmentation that I outlined (yes a fairly broad sweeping statement that you picked up) is of great interest – political parties win elections because they are capable of reading what each age bracket wants from their political aspirants.

These statements by Alexander Downer suggest that the Liberals felt they had been successful in attracting more vote from those from around 18 up to 30, based on what would appear to be some form of polling:

his focus on ideas is particulalry important in attracting the young person’s vote – a group that has even lower party identification than the general population. (Bean, 2005)

There was once a time when it was conventional wisdom that young people were more likely to vote for left or center-left parties while older people were more likely to vote for center-right or conservative parties.

This is no longer the case.

In the last federal election, 43% of the under 25s, and 50% of those aged between 25 and 30 supported the Coalition parties.

Support for the Liberal Party among the 25-30 year old bracket was higher than the over 30s bracket and was particularly high amongst men – 62%. (Bean, 2005).

The Labor Party and many Baby Boomers still think that young people today are the same as they were when they were young – ideological, pacifist, and always seeking state solutions to problems (if not seeking outright socialism or Marxism).

I don’t believe that the majority of young people are like that today.

Young people today are far more pragmatic and don’t want the state intervening in their lives.

They see personal freedom as a given.

They want to listen to their own music, to make money, to invest in their future.

This personal freedom extends to their politics.

They are even less affiliated to political parties than the rest of the population and form their opinions based on the merits of the ideas.

Quality ideas are what counts and that is where the Liberal Party is doing well.

We may not be able to determine how a teenager will vote. It’s not about whether a party membership as you say ‘have not progressed past the ideas of a mid-teen’, the discussion is directed towards how political parties will be able to ‘secure’ the younger person’s vote. If any party maintains some form of policies that only ‘appear’ to be attracting the youth vote, you’ll probably find that very group of young people will most likely see through any shallow attempts and give their vote to another party.

jube 9:32 am 18 Feb 06

“but if those in their mid-teens were allowed the choice to vote, I’d be pretty sure a lot of the vote would go to the Greens/ALP rather than the Libs.”

Therefore, members of Greens/ALP have not progressed past the ideas of a mid-teen? Well, OK – in the case of the Greens, maybe…….

caf 5:49 pm 17 Feb 06

No AD, sadly I haven’t been 17 for quite some time, I am old and decrepit.

Does the old “no taxation without representation” battle-cry still apply?

Blossy 4:04 pm 17 Feb 06

exactly Johnboy – we need a cut-off somewhere, why not leave it at what society currently sees as the “age of adulthood”?

If its moved to 16 or 17 because there’s “not much difference”, do we next change it to 14 or 15 to account for people who have a birthday two days before an election?

Leave it at 18, do our best to teach our kids to have a political conscience, and hope that one day, more voters will cast their votes in a considered way.

johnboy 3:23 pm 17 Feb 06

and yet regardless of a change in how you felt, the whole world changed around you.

some people will miss out on voting by a day no matter what threshold is set.

Kerces 3:10 pm 17 Feb 06

I’d like to second caf’s comment. What makes a 16- or 17-year-old any different to an 18-year-old? In some cases it can be a matter of just days between a birthday and an election when the previously-underaged-kid can vote. What’s to say they’ve suddenly turned into a mature adult in those few days? Or that they weren’t mature before their birthday?

Last year I left my teens behind and I can tell you I felt no different on the day after my birthday from the day before it.

Absent Diane 3:09 pm 17 Feb 06

Nope Im pretty sure most people mature at exactly the same age…I think what you are suggesting is very fanciful… are you 17???

johnboy 2:42 pm 17 Feb 06

Adults have to vote, do jury duty, and be fully accountable to the law for their actions.

Want to lower the age of majority? OK, i can see arguments both ways but let’s not split voting out.

Sure there are many kids who could make a more informed vote than many adults. But we don’t test for voting competence (many would say more is the pity).

If those informed kids who want to make a difference were serious they’d be manning the polling booths for the smaller parties which would do 10 times the good of their single vote.

caf 2:32 pm 17 Feb 06

Did you suddenly stop being stupid and fanciful on the night of your eighteenth birthday AD?

Perhaps you might like to entertain the notion that people mature at different rates and not everyone was like you at age seventeen.

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