THE Election Commission recently announced that the upcoming Johor polls will be the first to have Undi18 (youths aged 18 to 20) voters.

Let’s hope that Undi18 will be the norm for future state and general elections.

This is a reasonable expectation as it has been more than two years since the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2019 was passed to give our 18-year-old youths their voting rights

It is estimated some 1.5 million youths are not able to vote because of the current voting age of 21.

Note that in our region, citizens already aged 18 in Thailand, the Philippines, Brunei and Indonesia can vote.

As 18 year olds, Malaysians are considered mature and responsible enough to drive, marry, sign contracts and be tried in court as an adult.

It is only reasonable that they should then be able to cast their votes too.

Youths aged 15 to 24 constitute 17% of our total population as of 2017.

No doubt, they are one of the key stakeholders involved in the many challenges to make Malaysia a better nation.

Allowing voting at 18 years old is also a good way to attract younger voters into politics and keep them involved throughout their lives. This would lead to more engaged and informed citizens.

Many 18 year olds would have started work. As they contribute to our society, it is only fair that their voices be heard through voting during elections.

Hence, lowering the voting age is about encouraging our youth to learn, care and participate in politics.

It is pertinent to keep in mind former US president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s sound advice: “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”

Arguably, more youth participation and engagement in politics helps to better reform and shape our government policies so as to advance our nation economically and socially.

Sze Loong Steve Ngeow