New Zealand’s voting age of 18 is discriminatory, the court says

New Zealand lawmakers are expected to debate lowering the country’s voting age to 16 after the country’s Supreme Court ruled that the current voting age of 18 is discriminatory.

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the current law was inconsistent with New Zealand’s Bill of Rights, which requires citizens to enter the country after the age of 16.

The ruling was the culmination of a two-year legal battle spearheaded by advocacy group Make It 16.

reconciliation file
A vote is cast during a by-election on April 27, 2018 in Tauranga, New Zealand. According to the country’s Bill of Rights, citizens over the age of 16 must not be discriminated against on the basis of their age.

“That’s history,” said Caeden Tipler, co-director of Make It 16, adding: “The Government and Parliament cannot ignore such a clear legal and moral message. You have to let us vote.”

Proponents argued there was no reason to ban 16- and 17-year-olds from voting when they were legally entitled to drive and hold full-time jobs that required them to pay taxes.

Jacinda Ardern
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she personally supports lowering the voting age.
AFP via Getty Images

The court’s decision initiates a process in which the issue must be debated by Parliament and reviewed by a special committee.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said a measure to lower the voting age to 16 is being drafted before it is put to the vote.

“Personally, I support lowering the voting age, but it’s not just about me or the government, any change to the electoral law of that nature requires 75% of parliamentary support,” she said.

Lawmakers are divided on the issue, with the Greens in favor of lowering the voting age and the major opposition National party against.

“Obviously we have to draw a line somewhere,” said National Party leader Christopher Luxon. “We agree that the limit is 18. Many different countries have different places where the line is drawn and from our point of view 18 is fine.”

New Zealanders cannot purchase alcohol before the age of 18 without parental consent and must be 17 to apply for military service.

With mail wires New Zealand’s voting age of 18 is discriminatory, the court says


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