A historic decision by a New Zealand court found that denying 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote amounted to age discrimination. The decision on whether to reduce the voting age will be decided by a vote of the Kiwi parliamentarians, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced hours after the decision.
Ardern stated, ‘In our opinion, the greatest venue for parliament to address this problem and allow for public input is is,’ If New Zealand is successful in lowering the voting age, it will follow countries like Austria, Malta, Brazil, Cuba, and Ecuador in allowing those who are 16 and older to vote. Ardern and her administration will need to secure a supermajority in the legislature for it to become a reality.
Ardern stated, ‘I personally favour lowering the voting age, but it is not just a concern for me or even the government,’ before adding, ‘Any change in electoral legislation of this sort requires the backing of 75% of MPs’. The plan is reportedly going to be introduced in the parliament in the upcoming months by the current administration. Any rule modifications, however, won’t take effect until after the general election in the following year.
The court was deliberating a petition submitted by the ‘Make It 16 campaign’. The verdict on Monday, according to the campaigners, was the result of a two-year legal battle in which the organisation demanded that young voters be given the freedom to decide their future by casting ballots on matters like climate change, pandemic recovery options, and more. ‘This is the past. Such a strong legal and moral statement cannot be disregarded by the administration or parliament. Caeden Tipler, co-director of the Make It 16 campaign, said that they must allow us to cast our ballots’.