The country’s current voting age of 18 is discriminatory, New Zealand’s top court ruled on Monday. The court ordered the parliament to discuss whether the voting age should be further reduced. Reuters news.
Lawsuits have been ongoing since 2020 to lower New Zealand’s voting age from 18 to 16 or 17. The Supreme Court’s observation says that the current rule of voting at the age of 18 is inconsistent with the country’s Bill of Rights. Rather, the court feels that this right should be available only when the citizen reaches the age of 16.
The court is pressuring the Parliament to discuss the matter so that the Parliamentary Select Committee reviews it. But it is not forcing Parliament to change the voting age.
‘It’s history,’ says Make It Sixteen co-director Kayden Tipler. Government and Parliament cannot ignore such clear legal and moral messages. They must vote for us.’
The group said on its website that there is insufficient justification for preventing 16-year-olds from voting when they can drive, work full-time and pay taxes.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the government would draft legislation to lower the age to 16, which could then be voted on in parliament.
He added, ‘I personally support lowering the voting age but it is not a matter for me or even the government alone, any change in electoral law of this nature requires the support of 75 per cent of MPs.’
Political parties have mixed views on the issue. The Green Party wants immediate action to lower the voting age to 16, but the largest opposition party, the National Party, does not support the change.
National Party leader Christopher Luxon said, ‘Obviously, we have to draw a line somewhere. We are comfortable with the line being 18. Lines are drawn in different places in many countries and from our point of view 18 years is the most appropriate.’