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President Anthony Carmona believes 16-year-olds who are better informed and display greater critical analysis should be given the right to vote at elections.
He made the comment at the second annual T&T Youth Convention, where he delivered remarks to hundreds of secondary school students and teenagers at UWI Sports and Physical Education Centre in St Augustine.
Urging the youth to make positive changes in their lives and to give a lifting hand to people in need, Carmona admitted intelligence has been failing us miserably.
Since his inauguration in 2013, he said he has been an advocate for the youth and recommended to prime ministers at Caribbean forums “that what is needed in the Caribbean region was a youth Parliament that meets every six months, where the young people elected or appointed can articulate their solutions to problems that we face.”
Today’s generation, Carmona said, was better informed and display greater critical analysis.
“And that is why I am a strong advocate, because I have seen it worked in other countries where young people would be given the right to vote at elections at the age of 16.”
He said 40 years ago the majority of those who were 16-year-olds were nice people, but generally knew nothing, nor did they have technology at their disposal.
“Look at the maturity displayed by 16-year-olds in Scotland, who were asked to determine whether the entire population ought to remain in United Kingdom. And when they did the analysis of the 16-year-old vote and why they voted... and they voted in favour of remaining in Scotland. Their vote was analysed as being more critical, more profound and deeper than adults.”
Carmona said if 16-year-olds were given the vote on Brexit, it would not have resulted in grandparents and great parents determining the future of this younger generation.
The President also lashed out at social media bloggers who have been destroying the lives of innocent people.
“You see, I don’t want you all to be keyboard gangsters. I don’t want you to get up every morning, saying like some of the adults in this country who am I going to trash this morning? Who am I going to make life miserable for this morning? Who am I going to bad talk this morning?”
He said there are many people in T&T who obtain BSc, PhDs and Masters but would never be able to get a job in a foreign university because of the social media footprint. Likewise, he said Trinbagonians will never be able to work at companies home because of social media’s negativity.
Though social media is a wonderful form of expression, Carmona said one should not use it to de-power people.
There are several countries where the voting age is currently 16, among them Austria, Brazil, Malta and Scotland.
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