Great to see more progress over in Europe on lowering the voting age!
The Finnish Justice Minister, Tuija Brax (Greens) recently proposed lowering the minimum voting age in Finland to 16 for future municipal elections. Brax believes that municipal elections are the perfect learning grounds for younger voters.
The aim of lowering the voting age is simply to improve voter turnout. According to the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), the voter turnout among young people aged 18-29 in Western Europe is systematically lower than the average turnout – and Finland is no exception. Turnout among young people is the lowest of any age group in Finland, and the government wishes to reverse this trend.
Any changes to the voting age must be ratified by two consecutive parliaments, according to the constitution, meaning that any change is not possible before the 2012 municipal elections. The financial cost of any change has been estimated to be between 80,000 and 750,000 euros, depending on the costs of campaigns aimed at improving young voter turnout. No decision will be made on the national or local level until studies currently underway have been concluded sometime in the spring of 2011. However, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland has already lowered the voting age in this year’s parish elections to 16.