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New Zealand could lower voting age to 16 after Supreme Court ruling

Rachel Lang

| Last updated 

New Zealand could lower voting age to 16 after Supreme Court ruling

New Zealand could soon lower the voting age to 16 after a landmark Supreme Court ruling found that the current age minimum is inconsistent with the nation's Bill of Rights.

Kiwis can vote from the age of 18, however their Bill of Rights gives New Zealanders the right to be free from age discrimination when they turn 16.

The court case was put forward by voter's advocacy group Make It 16 in 2020 in a bid to see the minimum age lowered.

The ruling has now paved the way for Make It 16 to achieve their goal.

Make It 16 co-director Caeden Tipler called the ruling 'history' in the making.

"Preventing me and other 16 and 17 year-olds from voting is an unjustified breach of our right to be free from age discrimination," Tipler said.

"The government and parliament cannot ignore such a clear legal and moral message."

They added: "They must let us vote."

The Auckland 17-year-old said they felt vexxed during the 2020 New Zealand general election at not being able to vote on the issues that mattered to them.

"I became incredibly frustrated. I felt like I knew just as much as the adults around me... I was more than capable of voting," they said, as per the BBC.

The advocacy group says on its website that they believe there is insufficient justification to stop 16 year olds from voting when they can drive, work full time and pay tax.

That belief now has the backing of the courts and none other than Aotearoa's head honcho herself, Jacinda Ardern.

The New Zealand Prime Minister said the government would draft legislation to reduce the age to 16, however it will need to then put to a vote in parliament.

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. ALEXANDROS MICHAILIDIS / Alamy.
NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. ALEXANDROS MICHAILIDIS / Alamy.

"I personally support a decrease in the voting age but it is not a matter simply for me or even the government, any change in electoral law of this nature requires 75 per cent of parliamentarian support," Ardern said, as per Reuters.

Although the change has the support of the Kiwi Prime Minister, New Zealand's other political parties have mixed views on the subject.

The nation's Green Party wants immediate action to lower the voting age to 16.

However, the New Zealand National Party, the nation's largest opposition party, does not support the age change.

Lowering the voting age for New Zealand's local elections requires only a 51 per cent vote of approval in Parliament.

To lower the voting age for the country's general elections requires a 75 per cent majority in Parliament or a referendum.

Featured Image Credit: Pacific Press Media Production Corp. / Alamy. Picturebank / Alamy.

Topics: News, World News, Politics

Rachel Lang
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