Bar Council: No need to lower voting age

NST: 06 April, 2008
KUALA LUMPUR: Why lower the voting age when millions of of young voters haven’t registered to vote? That’s the Bar Council’s response to suggestions to bring the voting age down to 18.
“There are several other issues that should be resolved first,” said Bar Council vice-president Ragunath Kesavan.
These, he said, included the large number of young people who were eligible to vote but hadn’t registered despite the fact that registration was open all-year round.
Many voters also didn’t register a change in address with the Election Commission, although they may have changed the address in their MyKad.
The way forward, he said, should be to make voter registration compulsory at 21.
This he said would require a more efficient link-up between the National Registration Department and the Election Commission.
But Ragunath also added that the voting age was being lowered all over the world.
Some US states, he said, had also considered lowering the voting age from 18 to 16.
There are many reasons for this.
For instance, people are maturing earlier, completing their studies and entering the job market at a younger age.
They were exposed to issues and they had more access to information, he said.
“If they are to amend the laws, it must be meaningful. They’ll have to consider the benefits.
“With so many 21 year olds not registered as voters, what’s the point in lowering the voting age?”