Time to extend the voting age

The Green Party is calling on the Government to take immediate action to lower the voting age to 16.

The Supreme Court today ruled that preventing 16 and 17-year-olds from voting is unjustified age discrimination.

“Young people deserve to have a say in the decisions that affect them, both now and in the future. We are calling on the Government to come to the table with a plan to change the law to extend the voting age,” says Green Party electoral reform spokesperson, Golriz Ghahraman.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision that 16 and 17 year olds do have the right to vote is a testament to the hard word and passion of all the young people who fought tirelessly to uphold their basic right to have a say in how their country is run. It is a massive win for democracy.

“The judgement of the Court finds that Parliament has for decades been in breach of young people’s basic human rights. Now is the time to do what’s right and strengthen our democracy to include the voices of 16 and 17 year olds. 

“Every political party in our House of Representatives has a responsibility to listen when our Courts find that we have not been doing right by our people. The only response is to change that breach now. Doing nothing is simply not an option. 

“Only Parliament can change the voting age. And so while this decision is huge, there is still lots of work to do. The good news is that there is an easy fix, which is to pick up the parts of my Strengthening Democracy Member’s Bill, which would lower the voting age to 16 – and it could be done in time for the 2023 election.

“Democracies like ours, in Europe, the UK and Canada all have either already extended voting rights to 16 and 17 year olds or are currently changing their laws. Complying with the Supreme Court’s call would keep New Zealand’s democracy among the most modern and inclusive.

“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,” says Golriz Ghahraman.

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