New Zealand Considering Lowering Voting Age To 16

The government of New Zealand is considering legislation that would lower the voting age in the island nation from 18 to 16. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday that the country’s legislature will take the measure up after the New Zealand Supreme Court ruled the current age requirement is “discriminatory.”

Ardern said she supports dropping the minimum age to 16, although early reports indicate there is insufficient support among national lawmakers to approve the change. She noted that although she “personally supports a decrease in the voting age,” the nation’s electoral laws require approval from at least 75% of the members of its parliament to make the change.

Ardern said she anticipates that the full parliament will take the matter up for a vote in the “coming months,” although any such change would not become effective until after the next general national election.

Progressive political interests are generally supportive of younger people being given the power to vote, given their more left-leaning feelings and lack of experience in the impact of high taxation.

A national “Make It 16” campaign has been mounted in an effort to push the change in parliament. Sanat Singh is one of its directors and told reporters that young people are “more impacted” than older age groups by “existential issues” like climate change and COVID-19.

He said that is why he thinks “it’s really important to get all hands on deck to make sure we can have a stronger future.”

Of course, the Green Party also supports the proposed change. Spokesperson Golriz Chahraman said that “young people deserve to have a say in the decisions that affect them, both now and in the future.”

The only two rightward-leaning political parties in New Zealand have said they will not support lowering the voting age. The last time the voting age was lowered there was in the 1970s when it was lowered from 20 to 18.

While the recent decision of the nation’s supreme court orders the parliament to discuss lowering the voting age, it does not mandate that the change be approved.