New Zealand mulls lower voting age

Kiwis under 18 may become eligible to vote

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — New Zealand’s Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the current voting age of 18 breaches young people’s rights, prompting the government to launch plans to lower the age to 16.

After the ruling, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern quickly unveiled draft legislation lowering the voting age, but warned changes would be difficult to pass and could not be in place before the 2023 general election.

Ardern supports the change, but stressed that her vote would be just one in New Zealand’s 120-strong parliament.

“Any change of electoral law of this nature requires 75 percent of parliamentarians’ support.

“That’s why it’s our view that this is an issue best placed to parliament for everyone to have their say.”

Monday’s Supreme Court ruling marks the conclusion of a two-year case brought by the ‘Make it 16’ group of young campaigners, but only parliament can lower the voting age.

The ruling means parliament is now breaching the human rights of young voters, forcing New Zealand’s legislators to consider a change.

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