Even as Parksville residents streamed into voting booths in Saturday’s municipal election, Nick Peters and Brian Hannay stood outside, waving protest signs and chatting with voters as they emerged.
The two Parksville teens were on hand to protest the fact that, at age 16, despite being aware of the issues and attending all candidates meetings, they were not allowed to cast a ballot.
“We are protesting this election,” Peters said, “because it is unconstitutional.”
Specifically, he said the vote violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in two areas.
“It violates Section Three, which said every Canadian citizen has the right to vote in an election,” Peters said. “It also violates Section 15, which said it is illegal to discriminate in Canada based on age, mental ability, physical disability, colour or religion.”
Peters said the pair began their electoral protest campaign during the last federal election and although he conceded he doesn’t expect the two-person demonstration to change the law, Peters said he wanted to make it known that young people want to take part in the democratic process — but aren’t allowed to do so.
“I am sick and tired of having a bunch of stuff happen that I have no say in and then you get people saying ‘oh, young people don’t vote enough.’
“It’s a complete joke. They are saying you can’t vote until you are this age and then they complain that we don’t vote.”
Peters said one argument he hears is that teenagers are not mentally capable of voting — a position that makes him bristle.
“I hate that argument,” he said. “I’ve been to all candidates meetings and we’ve done the research,” he said. “If people are informed they should have the right to vote.”