The Govt Is Being Urged To Allow 16 And 17 YOs To Vote And Honestly This Is Long Overdue


The Federal Government is being called upon to lower the voting age to 16, as well as allow citizens in prison to participate in democracy. Finally.

Several submissions to the joint standing committee on electoral matters this month have called for expanded voting rights because, well, there is literally no reason why a teenager, who can work, drive and go to jail, shouldn’t be able to have a say in their country’s future.

Law professor and deputy vice-chancellor of the University of New South Wales Prof George Williams proposed voluntary voting for 16 and 17-year-olds as well as new regulations around “electoral lies”.

“Consideration should be given to extending the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds by way of a cautious, incremental path,” he said as per Guardian Australia.

“Initially, the vote should extend to this age group on a voluntary basis.”

Williams said it was “notoriously difficult to get 18-year-olds to enrol and vote” as they have loads of other things going on at that age.

“On the other hand, 16 and 17-year-olds tend to be in a more stable family environment, and still at school,” he said, which would make enrolling to vote a higher priority.

At this year’s federal election the youth enrollment rate was about 88 per cent, the highest on record. But many are passionate and informed about issues that face them so should be encouraged to enrol and vote earlier. Yeah, the internet exists. I’d argue my teenage cousins know more about the current state of Australian politics than my relatives in their 90s.

Teens were “more passionate about the future of our nation and their democratic rights than other sections of the community”, he said.

Former opposition leader Bill Shorten made an election promise to lower the voting age back in 2016 but since he lost no Labor leaders have made a similar commitment.

Honestly, if Pauline Hanson is trying to raise the voting age to 21, we fkn know young people should be able to vote.

Williams’ submission also called for truth-in-political-advertising laws and fines for breaking them, with free-speech safeguards so the “new law cannot be weaponised during an election campaign by one party seeking court injunctions against its opponents”.

The Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service also made a submission calling for “all restrictions on the right of incarcerated people serving sentences to vote” to be scrapped.

Australian citizens serving a sentence of three years or longer lose their right to vote.

But the legal service said because First Nations people are way overrepresented in prisons, the “restriction of voting rights for people in prison is a form of disenfranchisement which heavily affects already marginalised people”.

“It has been estimated that 0.6 per cent of Aboriginal people in Australia are disenfranchised by restrictions on voting from prison, compared to 0.075 per cent of non-Aboriginal people,” it wrote.

Regardless of their crimes, First Nations Australians should not be denied their right to vote on their own land.