The Green Party says Parliament must take action to make democracy more accessible by lowering the voting age to 16.
The Court of Appeal today upheld the High Court’s decision that discriminating against 16 and 17 year olds by setting the voting age at 18 years was justified.
“Although the Court’s decision is restricted to whether or not the limitation on the right to vote is justified in law, it again made clear that the current law does breach the rights of 16 and 17 year olds. Parliament can and must alleviate that breach,” says Green Party electoral reform spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman.
The Green Party has long pushed for there to be a thorough review of electoral law. The Government finally agreed and announced a review last week. This review will allow for a long overdue public debate about the voting age.
“More than ever, the decisions made by politicians today will impact the world young New Zealanders inherit from us,” says Golriz Ghahraman.
“Young people in Aotearoa and around the globe are demanding change so they and future generations have a better world to live in. This includes action to ensure a liveable planet, a thriving natural environment, and affordable homes.
“16 and 17 year olds can work, pay tax, drive, and leave home. They deserve to have a say in the decisions that affect them, both now and in the future. My Strengthening Democracy Member’s Bill would help ensure more people’s voices to count in our democracy by lowering the voting age to 16.
“Not only would this change create a more representative democracy, but it would also provide more opportunities to engage young people in politics while they’re at school.
“We know once people enrol, voting becomes a life-long habit, which is great for the long-term health of our democracy,” says Golriz Ghahraman.