New Zealand court rules 18 voting age ‘discriminates against young people’: Ardern government mulls lowering to 16
- Bill to lower voting age to 16 already unveiled by Arden
- The final decision rests with the 120-member parliament, with a 75% majority required
- “I personally support a lowering of the age,” Arden told reporters
New Zealand’s Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the country’s current voting age of 18 violates the rights of young people, prompting the government to launch plans to lower the age to 16.
After the decision, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern quickly unveiled a bill lowering the voting age, but warned the changes would be difficult to pass and could not be in place before the 2023 general election.
Ardern supports the change, but stressed his vote would only be one in New Zealand’s 120-member parliament.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks during a press conference on June 10, 2022 in Sydney, Australia
“I personally support a lowering of the age, but that’s not an issue for me or even for the government,” she told reporters in Wellington.
“Any modification of the electoral law of this nature requires 75% of the support of parliamentarians.
‘That’s why we believe this is an issue best placed in Parliament for everyone to have a say.’
Monday’s Supreme Court ruling marks the conclusion of a two-year case brought by youth activist group ‘Make it 16’, but only parliament can lower the voting age.
The ruling means Parliament is now violating the human rights of young voters, forcing New Zealand lawmakers to consider change.
Only a handful of countries in the world have a voting age of 16, including Brazil.
Scholars have found that lowering the voting age tends to improve political engagement, with results varying from country to country.