The supreme court in New Zealand has ruled that the voting age should be lowered to 16 to not breach the human rights of young people.
Per The Guardian, the decision was made on the basis that not allowing people under the age of 18 to vote is discriminatory considering elections directly influence issues that will have an effect on the future of young people.
Make It 16 — the group of campaigners who brought the two-year case to the supreme court — said the court’s declaration that current voting laws are inconsistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 is a clear message the New Zealand Government can’t ignore.
“This is history,” co-director Caeden Tipler said.
“Today New Zealand’s highest court has confirmed that stopping young people from voting is a breach of our human rights.
“Preventing me and other 16 and 17-year-olds from voting is an unjustified breach of our right to be free from age discrimination. The government and Parliament cannot ignore such a clear legal and moral message. They must let us vote.”
NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised the government will draft legislation to change the voting age in a post-Cabinet conference on Monday. She noted that if the legislation is supported by the Parliament it won’t be active for the next general election.
“The electoral commission would be key in determining when it could feasibly take effect if supported,” she said.
“Ultimately we see the best way for the matter to be resolved is for the whole parliament to vote on it. Government alone cannot change this law.”
The legislation will need a supermajority — at least 75 per cent support — to be changed which would mean both Ardern’s Labour party and the opposition centre-right National party would have to support the electoral change before it becomes law.
Ardern said Labour has not yet revealed a party position on lowering the voting age as they had not yet met to discuss the idea as a caucus.
Considering Australia is hell-bent on claiming NZ’s best musical exports as our own, can we also follow their lead on legal voting ages too, please?