Ministers to mull lowering voting age to 17
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Ministers to mull lowering voting age to 17

Bill would aim to achieve increase in voter turnout, which has hovered around 65% since 2001

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Officials count the final ballots, from soldiers and absentees, a day after the general elections, March 18, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90
Officials count the final ballots, from soldiers and absentees, a day after the general elections, March 18, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation will decide Sunday whether to push forward a bill that would set the legal voting age for future elections at 17, as opposed to its current 18.

The bill, which was proposed by Shas MK Ya’akov Margi, aims to increase voter turnout.

“In order to raise the percentage of the voter turnout, we must include young people who have an interest in Israeli politics,” Margi wrote. “Seventeen-year-olds are mature enough to participate in the elections and have an influence.”

Margi’s bill was signed by MKs from the governing coalition including Kulanu’s Meirav Ben-Ari and Likud’s Nurit Koren, as well as legislators from the opposition, among them Dov Khenin of the Joint (Arab) List, Yesh Atid’s Meir Cohen, and the Zionist Union’s Yossi Yonah.

A statement issued by the Israel Democracy Institute to the MKs behind the bill said that research in other countries such as Argentina showed that lowering the voting age would not necessarily increase turnout. However, the IDI noted that it had no specific objections to changing the legal voting age.

Since 2001, voter turnout in Israel has hovered around 65 percent. In the last elections on March 17, 2015, 72.3% of eligible voters exercised their right at the ballot.

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