How 14-year-olds may help choose Saskatchewan’s next premier

News source from CTV News

Jennifer Jellicoe and Kevin Menz, CTV Saskatoon

Published Thursday, January 11, 2018 7:40PM CST

Last Updated Thursday, January 11, 2018 7:43PM CST

Saskatchewan residents as young as 14 years old may be voting for the next premier, even if they aren’t eligible to vote in the province’s elections.

Voters in general elections must be over 18, but, because the next premier will be chosen via the Saskatchewan Party leadership race, youth between 14 and 18 years old are eligible to take part in the decision due to the party’s membership rules. Anyone over 14 is eligible to purchase a membership and, thus, eligible to vote for the party’s next leader.

“If it’s going to get more people involved and educated about political issues, then so be it,” Saskatchewan political historian Gordon Barnhart said.

Barnhart sees nothing wrong with young people voting within a party, and said he knows some young people who are already more knowledgeable about politics than their elders.

“The critics might say maybe their parents are influencing them unduly to choose candidate X or Y, but that could happen with older people as well,” Barnhart said. “How people are influenced — that may vary. I think the key in all of this is to make sure people are interested and participating and very much involved.”

Memberships for the Saskatchewan Party have nearly tripled to 27,000 since the leadership race began. Nearly 2,000 of those memberships belong to youth aged 14 to 25.

The Saskatchewan Party says giving youth the opportunity to register with the party is one way of helping young people become more interested and educated about politics.

Sask. Party members will choose their leader and Saskatchewan’s next premier on Jan. 27.

The New Democratic Party’s age requirement is 13 years old, meaning the NDP could also have teenagers choosing its new leader in March.

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