Advocates yesterday called on lawmakers to lower the voting age to 18, a day after the Legislative Yuan’s Procedures Committee placed a related bill on the legislative agenda for tomorrow.
The bill — which would involve amending Article 1 of the Constitution — must pass the legislature by the end of this month if it is to be ratified in a referendum held concurrently with the local elections on Nov. 26.
Speaking at a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, youth rights groups said that legislators must vote for the bill or be “condemned by history.”
Taiwan Youth Association for Democracy president Chang Yu-meng (張育萌) said that partisanship should not get in the way of enfranchising young people, a goal to which he said Taiwan has never been closer.
Japan, Malaysia and South Korea have amended their laws to lower the voting age, he said, adding that Taiwan must not become a holdout among the world’s democracies by denying young people the right to vote.
Lin Yu-sheng (林于聖), deputy secretary-general of the Taiwan Alliance for Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare, said reducing the age threshold would help young people find their political voice and inject energy into political discussions.
Taiwan Association for Human Rights deputy secretary-general Wang Si (王曦) said that political parties must back the constitutional amendment as they have promised, adding that young people should at a minimum be able to establish civil groups and assemble as current laws implicitly allow.
Students from more than 100 high schools have joined the call to support the amendment on social media with the hashtag “votefor18,” and plan to demonstrate outside the Legislative Yuan as lawmakers vote on the bill, they said.
Lawmakers’ deliberations on the bill are to be broadcast live at the protest site, they added.
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