A bill lowering the voting age from 18 to 16 in Argentina has been approved by congress and will go into effect in time for the mid-term elections next year.
President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has backed the bill and is expected to benefit from the addition of over one million potential voters to the roughly 29 million people already registered to vote as she has more political support among younger demographics.
"It is a very important initiative because it expands the frontier of rights," said Agustin Rossi, head of the governing bloc in the Chamber of Deputies, the BBC reported.
The political opposition has complained that the bill is designed to benefit Fernandez and her party, which already has majorities in both chambers of congress. There has been speculation that Fernandez intends to seek a third term, which would require a two-thirds majority in congress to amend the constitution.
Fernandez’s party does not currently have a two-thirds majority in congress, but could achieve it if the crop of new, younger voters turn out at the polls in the legislative elections.
In Argentina, voters ages 18 to 70 are required to vote, but it will be optional for 16- and 17-year-olds.
Other countries in Latin America also have voting ages set at 16, including Brazil, Ecuador and Nicaragua.