Constitutional Court annuls voting registration obligation for 16 and 17-year-olds
The Constitutional Court has annulled the prior registration obligation for 16 and 17-year-olds who want to vote in next year's European elections. This was reported by the court in a press release on Thursday.
In the elections on 9 June next year, 16 and 17-year-olds will be able to vote for the first time in the European election.
The court examined the existing law from 1 June 2022 that obliges 16 and 17-year-olds in Belgium to register in advance to vote. About 280,000 young people are eligible to participate, but unlike adults, they are not automatically included on the electoral roll and would need to register in advance. The court has removed that barrier of obliging them to enlist first, but it may become compulsory for them to vote.
The Flemish Youth Council is satisfied with the judgment of the Constitutional Court. "We have been asking for years to make voting rights as accessible as possible," they say. "This judgment is a recognition for us and a hugely important step to make the voices of young people heard."
"Ultimately, this statement is primarily an opportunity for more democracy.
Green MP Kristof Calvo is also pleased with the judgment. "Ultimately, this statement is primarily an opportunity for more democracy. After all, more young people will participate without additional barriers," he responds. Vooruit party leader Melissa Depraetere shares his views on the advantage of the accessibility change, "Without registration, young people can decide on the day to vote."
PVDA Member of Parliament Raoul Hedebouw is also pleased that the "incomprehensible threshold for participation" has been destroyed. "The government's elitist view of young people has made a mess of it. How are they going to fix this now, given that the law has to be passed at least a year before the elections?" he wonders.
In a first response, Minister Verlinden notes that the Court "confirms the possibility of extending the right to vote to 16 and 17-year-olds, but annuls the prior registration obligation". "We are investigating how we can shape the voting rights for 16 and 17-year-olds in the European elections in the light of this judgment," said Verlinden.