Stuff: ‘Make it 16’ campaign launches, taking case of voting rights of 16-year-olds to court

Written by Felix Desmarais 19:04, Sep 19 2019

The 'Make It 16' campaign will be launched at  Parliament tomorrow. Co directors Dan Harward Jones, 17, front left and Gina Dao-McLay 16, front right, are pictured with, from left, Jackson Graham, 20,  Lily Stelling, 18, Rebecca Matijevich, 19, Ella Flavell, 18,  Pierson Palmer, 17, and Olivia Trass, 17.
MONIQUE FORD/STUFF The ‘Make It 16’ campaign will be launched at Parliament tomorrow. Co directors Dan Harward Jones, 17, front left and Gina Dao-McLay 16, front right, are pictured with, from left, Jackson Graham, 20, Lily Stelling, 18, Rebecca Matijevich, 19, Ella Flavell, 18, Pierson Palmer, 17, and Olivia Trass, 17.

At 16, you can leave school, leave home, work fulltime, apply for a gun licence and fly a plane solo. So why can’t you vote?

That’s the question posed by a new campaign to lower the voting age in New Zealand to 16.

The campaign, named “Make it 16” will launch at Parliament on Friday, with plans to take their case to the High Court, testing the rights of 16 and 17-year-olds to be able to vote in elections.

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Stuff: Time to lower the voting age in New Zealand?

Written by Azaria Howell 11:44, Sep 14 2017

Despite representing New Zealand at a recent UN Youth summit, 15-year-old Azaria Howell
won't get to have her say in the coming election.
Despite representing New Zealand at a recent UN Youth summit, 15-year-old Azaria Howell won’t get to have her say in the coming election.

With more young candidates and voices emerging in New Zealand politics, is it time we as a nation took a serious look at lowering the voting age?

As a young person who cares passionately about politics, I support the idea of changing the voting age to 16. I believe we need our voices heard.

Even with the current voting limit of 18, some are already predicting  a political “youthquake” for the coming general election. Imagine the impact if the tens of thousands of voters aged 16 and 17 were added to the electoral roll.

If the voting age was lowered lowered to 16, politicians would be far more likely to take youth opinions and issues seriously. Under the current system, the issues that matter to us are woefully under-represented.

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Stuff: Call to lower voting age in New Zealand to 16

Written by Ellen O’Dwyer 14:29, Aug 11 2019

Waikato University academic Patrick Barrett argues New Zealand should lower the voting age to 16.

If the voters in Hamilton City Council’s 2016 election were represented by a room of ten people, only three of them would have voted and most of those would have been land owners, over 50 and privileged.

Only 33.6 per cent of those eligible voted, and that’s a whole lot of people – younger residents, new migrants and lower socio-economic groups – who are not voting, Patrick Barrett says.

The Waikato University senior lecturer in public policy and political science wants to see more young people voting and thinks lowering the voting age to 16 will help.

It’s about making sure political institutions, whether that be the council table or seats in the beehive, are more representative.

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The Spinoff: A 14-year-old on how to rescue politics

Written by Oli Morphew, July 19 2019

When teenagers today are being called upon to solve the problems of tomorrow, why aren’t they given the right to participate in democracy? Fourteen-year-old Oli Morphew makes the case for lowering the voting age. 

If you’re going to deprive someone of their rights, you’d better be completely assured of the reasons you’re doing so, and equally sure that it’s the right thing to do.

There is no good reason why depriving 16 and 17-year-olds of the vote in Aotearoa is the right thing to do. Voting is a fundamental human right.  One person, one vote is the foundation of democracy. In order for a fair democracy, we need a vote that represents people of all age demographics.

It was incredibly refreshing to hear youth voices in parliament this week at Youth Parliament. Speaking on sustainable energy, one Youth MP said that we shouldn’t be “commending (young people) as inspirational young leaders whilst prohibiting them from voting on these issues that are more relevant to them.” Currently, in parliament issues are not debated from a youth context because of the lack of voting power we have as a demographic. This is the vicious cycle that prohibits true representation of youth in politics. 

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RNZ: Call to lower voting age from Youth MP

Written by Annabel McCarthy, 14 July 2019

Aotearoa’s first Youth Parliament was held to mark 20 years since the voting age was lowered to 18. As this year’s Youth MPs prepare for the ninth Youth Parliament, Annabel McCarthy* asks whether lowering the voting age once again would address democratic disengagement among the country’s youth.

Prior to the 1960s, voters in New Zealand had to be at least 21. An increasing student interest in politics propelled Parliament to reduce the voting age. Parliament did this in two steps, first lowering it to 20 in 1969, and then to 18 in 1974.

Twenty years later, in 1994, the first Youth Parliament was held in commemoration.

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Stuff: Sixteen is the future age of reason and responsibility

Written by Andrew Sealey 12:24, Mar 21 2018

To me, there seems to be an obvious answer. Yes, 16-year-olds should have the right to vote and determine their future as well as the nation’s.

At age of 16, you are allowed to get a drivers licence, leave school, get married (with consent), consent to sex, obtain a gun license and give medical consent. Depending on the offence, legal responsibility can be dealt with through the Youth Court until the age of 17, however serious offences can be transferred to the District Court from the age of 14.

At 16, New Zealanders are allowed all these rights and responsibilities, but do not allow them the right to vote. This seems to be a huge discrepancy.

I know many will tout the view that a 16-year-old is not mature enough to make a decision as to who to vote for. But I for one believe that they are more likely to make an informed decision on their vision for the future of New Zealand.

Many older voters seem to vote on party lines rather than the policies on offer. Just reading the comments in political articles seems to confirm this.

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Stuff: Youth voters have more to offer than you think

Written by Peter Lynch 13:59, Mar 12 2018

I am 16. Smack bang at the youngest age we’ll be able to vote at if the Children’s Minister gets his way.

You can probably guess what my thoughts are – let the kids vote! But there’s more to it than that. Much more.

Do you remember when the flag debate was happening? I do.

I sat on the sidelines while people were discussing the flag we were all going to have as a nation. The flag we would identify ourselves with whenever we went overseas or watched a rugby match.

The reason I sat on the sidelines? I wasn’t old enough.

I was allowed to submit a design for a flag, but I couldn’t vote.

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The Spinoff: Make it 16 – a teenager on why we should lower the voting age

Written by Azaria Howell, Nov 29th 2018

Aren’t Can’t Don’t: Contrary to popular opinion, lots of young people care deeply about politics and are desperate to have their voices heard, writes youth journalist and activist Azaria Howell.

On September 24th, 2018, I rushed to the mailbox to see what I had received for my 17th birthday. To my delight, a card (that had doubled as lunch for a few snails) from the Electoral Commission had finally arrived. Walking back to my house, that bright orange logo shone in my eyes as I fantasised about all the ways I could make a difference when I could finally vote.

I had experienced the collective dream of many teenagers in this country.

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The Conversation: How lowering the voting age to 16 could save democracy

Written by Bronwyn Wood and Nick Munn 14:02, Mar 23 2018

Former US president Barack Obama visited New Zealand this week and met with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Both leaders share an interest in youth development and their discussions focused on how to keep younger generations engaged and involved.

In the wake of the school shooting in Florida last month, there have been calls in the US to lower the voting age to 16 to give high school students power to challenge gun laws. In New Zealand, too, the idea of allowing 16-year-olds to vote has again been mooted by the children’s commissioner, Andrew Becroft.

So, what are the arguments against and for a lower voting age?

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