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Calgary mayor Nenshi favours Lethbridge councillor's move to lower municipal voting age to 16

An Elections Canada ballot box is shown

Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A southern Alberta city councillor wants to see the voting age in municipal elections lowered to 16, and he's getting some support from Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

Jeff Coffman of Lethbridge plans to present a resolution at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association convention later this year.

Coffman received enough support from other Lethbridge councillors to go ahead with the resolution in September.

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Coffman says allowing people to vote before they are 18 helps foster future participation at the ballot box.

Nenshi says he agrees, and that it's a great way to get young people interested in the democratic process.

He says teenagers today are very knowledgeable.

"I think that a lot of teenagers, particularly if they are still in school, know probably more about governance than we know, so it is certainly something to look at."

Nenshi says mock student votes often mirror what happens in actual elections, adding this past provincial election saw the student vote within three or four seats of the actual results.

If Coffman's resolution is approved at the convention, it will go to the provincial government with a request to amend the Local Authorities Election Act.

Coffman says he's concerned about the steady decline in voter turn out in the younger generation.

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"The earlier you get someone to vote, the more that habit sticks with them through their life," he said. "If we can encourage people to be voting that very first election, then that's an opportunity for us to build a healthier democratic process in the future."

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