In this challenge, students explore similarities and differences in the legal requirements for voting and driving in order to learn more about their rights and responsibilities as citizens under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Students create a persuasive letter to petition MLAs to retain, lower or raise the voting age in Alberta.
Brainstorm characteristics for responsible driving and voting
Ask students to brainstorm personal characteristics required for responsible driving and voting in Alberta. Characteristics such as maturity, skills and knowledge may be included. Record student responses on a chart.
You may wish to adapt one of the charts and strategies in Collecting Information (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.
Research the rights and requirements for voting in Canada and Alberta
Ask students, individually or in groups, to identify the legal requirements for voting by examining the following documents:
To meet diverse learning needs, consider directing or assisting student research of the Charter (see References).
Research the legal requirements for driving in Alberta
Ask students, individually or in groups, to identify the legal requirements for driving (see References).
To meet diverse learning needs, consider directing or assisting student research of the requirements for obtaining a driver’s (operator’s) licence (see References).
Compare the legal requirements
Ask students to compare and contrast the requirements for driving and voting.
You may wish to adapt one of the charts and strategies in Comparing Differences (Support Material) or Venn Diagrams (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.
Discuss the inconsistency in the requirements
Pose the question, “Is it fair that students can legally drive at age 16 but do not have a legal right to vote until age 18?”. In order to facilitate a discussion on the fairness of these differing policies, you may want to introduce criteria for sound laws affecting young people; e.g.,
- is fair to young people—doesn’t treat them differently for no good reason
- will benefit (or not harm) society
- will benefit (or not harm) youth.
Divide the class into small groups and invite each group to make a list of possible reasons for and against the different age policies.
Write a persuasive letter
Suggest that students write a persuasive letter to petition their local MLAs to retain, lower or raise the provincial voting age in Alberta. Criteria for effective persuasive writing could include the following:
- expresses a clear position
- provides good reasons supported with accurate evidence for the position
- is written in a clear, organized manner with a tone that is appropriate to the intended audience.
You may wish to refer to Developing Effective Arguments (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.
Extension: Send the letter or conduct further research
To extend the learning, you may wish to have students actually send their letters to the local MLAs or research the issue in current media sources and on the Internet to identify current perspectives on the right to vote.