New Zealand’s Supreme Court has ruled not allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote is in breach of the NZ Bill of Rights, as it is a form of age-based discrimination.
Whilst the ruling does not automatically lower the voting age to 16 in the country, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said her government will draft legislation to do so.
Who launched the case?
The case was brought by ‘Make It 16’ – a group of campaigners who sought to argue that young people should be able to vote on critical issues such as climate change, housing prices, education and mental health.
The group also argued that 16-year-olds should have the right to vote given they are allowed to drive, pay tax, and work full-time.
How will the law change?
To change electoral law in New Zealand, 75% of the parliament must support the measures.
While Jacinda Arden’s Labour government, the Green Party and the Māori Party support lowering the voting age, crossing the 75% threshold will require additional votes.
The opposition National Party’s leader Christopher Luxon has said his party does not support a lower voting age, and minor party ACT’s leader David Seymour told the media his party will vote against the proposal.
“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.”Make It 16 co-director Caeden Tipler, speaking after the decision