NEW ZEALAND: In a landmark decision, New Zealand’s Supreme Court ruled that the current law allowing people to vote at the age of 18 amounts to age discrimination and a violation of the human rights of young people.
In 2020, the advocacy group “Make It 16” brought up the case in an effort to drop the voting age from 18 to 16.
Hours after the ruling, Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, said that the Kiwi MPs would have to vote to decide on lowering the voting age.
Ardern said, “It is our view that this is an issue best placed in Parliament for everyone to have their say.”
The Supreme Court found the present voting age of 18 was incompatible with the country’s Bill of Rights, which guarantees individuals freedom from age discrimination once they turn 16 years old.
After the decision is made, a process is triggered requiring that the matter be discussed in parliament and examined by a select committee of lawmakers. The voting age is not, however, compelled to change by this.
This is history, remarked Caeden Tipler, co-director of Make It 16, adding that “the government and parliament cannot ignore such a clear legal and moral message.” “They must let us cast our ballots.”
On its website, the group claims that there is inadequate justification to bar 16-year-olds from voting when they are old enough to drive, have a job, and pay taxes.
Ardern, New Zealand’s PM, announced that the government would introduce legislation to lower the age of voting to 16 and put it to a vote in parliament.
In her words, “I personally support lowering the voting age, but it is not only an issue for me or for the government; any change in electoral law of this sort requires 75% of parliamentarian support.”
Political parties hold a range of opinions about it. The Green Party wants to decrease the voting age to 16 right away, but the National Party, which is the main opposition party, opposes the change.
The leader of the National Party, Christopher Luxon, stated, “Obviously, we have to draw a line someplace.”
“We’re comfortable with the line being 18.” “Lots of different countries have different places where the line’s drawn, and from our point of view, 18’s just fine,” he continued.
Previously, the voting age in New Zealand was decreased from 21 to 20 in 1969 and subsequently to 18 in 1974.