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‘It’s discriminatory’ – New Zealand decides to lower voting age from 18 to 16

'It's discriminatory' - New Zealand decides to lower voting age from 18 to 16

New Zealand’s highest court has ruled the current voting age of 18 is discriminatory, forcing Parliament to debate whether to lower it.

The case has been taken to court by advocacy group Make It 16, who want the age to be lowered to include 16 and 17 year olds. The legal standoff has been ongoing since 2020.

On Monday, November 21, the Supreme Court ruled that the current voting age of 18 is inconsistent with the country’s Bill of Rights, which gives people the right to be free from age discrimination when they reached 16 years old.

The decision means that the issue must be submitted to parliament for discussion and examined by a select parliamentary committee. But this does not oblige Parliament to change the voting age.

“It’s ancient history,” said Make It 16 co-director Caeden Tipler, adding, “Government and parliament cannot ignore such a clear legal and moral message. They must let us vote.

The group says on its website that there is not enough justification to prevent 16-year-olds from voting when they can drive, work full time and pay taxes.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the government would draft legislation to lower the age to 16, which could then be put to a vote in parliament.

“I personally support a lowering of the voting age but this is not just a matter for me or even for the government, any change in electoral law of this nature requires 75% parliamentary support,” he said. she stated.

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