VOTE 18Reduction of the minimum voting age from 20 to 18 in Cameroon
About the VOTE 18
Young People below 20, make up the majority of the population. Denying them the right to vote, is denying an essential right to more than half of the population. Cameroon has a population of over 24 million people with a median age of about 18 years. This means that when the population is divided in two parts, half (i.e. over 12 million people) will be below the age of 18 and the other half above 18. There are about 2 million people between the age of 18 and 20. When you add that to the population below 18, that gives 14 million people i.e. about 60 % of the population of Cameroon. Placing the voting age in Cameroon at 20 therefore means that only 40% of Cameroonians have been granted the right to vote in our elections. This is unfair in a democracy.
Secondly, 18 year olds have been granted other rights and responsibilities with equal substance as the right to vote. Article 80(4) of the 2016 Penal Code of Cameroon states that a person aged 18 (eighteen) years or above shall be responsible as an adult.
They can begin to work and pay taxes at that age, they can get married at 18 and sometimes 15 years for girls, they are recruited into the military at 18, they are ascribed full criminal responsibility and face jail terms at 18, they are established ID cards at 18 and sometimes they allow them to observe elections at 18. We believe that if an 18 year-old is recognized as capable of handling a gun, and a family, they should be allowed to handle a ballot
Work done by NewSETA on lowering the voting age
- Before starting the campaign we conducted a survey in 2015 with 200 youths and local experts in the Capital city of Yaoundé, on the question of lowering the voting age in Cameroon. 74% of the people we interviewed were in favour of lowering the voting age to 18.
- We have organized several sessions of “echanges honorables,” between youth leaders, and law makers and other stakeholders to debate the issue;
- We have written 180 letters to all 180 members of Parliament as well as to the President of the Republic to support the idea of lowering the voting age to 18,
- In partnership with the REJE – Reseau Parlementaire Esperance Jeunesse, NewSETA presented the VOTE 18 Campaign in the March 2016 Ordinary Session of Parliament at the National Assembly of Cameroon, with a corresponding bill for amending article 2 (3) of the constitution.
- We have organized Major National Days of Action on the Campaign in the Northern and Littoral regions, to broaden the base of voices, calling on the government, Parliament and all relevant stakeholders to positive measures. This National Days of action have brought together over 500 young people and several media houses to amplify the Campaign.
The VOTE 18 has become a movement, championed by Alumni of REPAIR (NewSETA’s flagship National Capacity Building program on Peace, Democracy, Elections and Governance), which imparts over 1200 young people annually directly and indirectly since 2015.
Vote 18 National Day of Action – Douala, Civil Society and leaders of political Parties.
NewSETA Partnering with ELECAM in Voter registration, during Vote 18 National Day of Action in Garoua
NewSETA Executive Director, speaking to the media on the raison d’être of the Vote18 Campaign during one the National Days of Action
VOTE 18 National Day of Action – Garoua
REPAIR Ambassadors are leading the Vote 18 Movement in their respective Regions