03/08/2013 05:54 EST | Updated 05/08/2013 05:12 EDT

NDP leader Dix wants teens to get on the voters' list

VANCOUVER - NDP leader Adrian Dix is introducing legislation that could allow youth under 18-years-old to get on the B.C. voter's list.

Dix told a group of secondary school students and reporters Friday he will introduce the legislation Monday in Victoria in hopes it will encourage more young people to vote when they turn 18.

"Right now, you have to wait until you’re 18 to register to vote," he said.

"What we find is that when people are not registered to vote, they tend, in a much smaller number, to actually vote. So this is a change to make it easier to vote, to involve young people in the process, and to ensure they have the opportunity."

His party wants to ensure teens can sign up starting at age 16, though the age at which they can actually vote would remain 18.

Dix said he wants youth to be able to register in places like Grade 11 social studies classes or while registering for driver's licenses.

Pollster Mario Canseco said Dix's suggestion would likely be less successful in affecting youth voter turnout rates than it would be in burnishing the NDP's credentials on youth issues.

"I don’t think it necessarily will have an effect on turnout, but I think it helps them in the sense that it shows that they’re a party that is caring about what the next generation will want," said Canseco, who is with Angus Reid Public Opinion.

"It’s interesting because both the Liberals and the NDP allowed underage voters to participate in the leadership races. I think this really plays well into something that they’ve been doing for a while at the NDP provincially, which is to try to get younger people more engaged in politics."

He added Dix's approach is similar to that of Obama's during his 2008 presidential campaign.

"At the end, that was one of the reasons he did so well in that election," said Canseco.

"They realized that they could have a lot of people they could register if they went to universities and tried to basically appeal to this section of the American population and get them to vote for Obama."

Dix is hopeful that providing provisional registration for youth could bring about a change in government process.

"I think the views and the decisions made by government would be different if more young people voted. We wouldn’t see young people, for example, have average debt levels of $27,000 when they leave college or university, if more young people voted," said Dix.

"What we have to do is take away some of the barriers for participation in societies."