The Children’s Commissioner is backing a campaign to lower the voting age to 16, saying grey-haired New Zealanders need to acknowledge young people of today are more aware of the world’s problems.
Ella Flavell has never voted but has been champing at the bit to do so.
“Last election I was thinking ‘dang it – I can’t vote’ because I was engaged with all the issues I thought were important to me’,” she says.
She’s part of a campaign called Make it 16, which is challenging the Government to lower the voting age to 16. And supporters come from across the political spectrum.
Jackson Graham says he’s a member of the ACT Party.
“We have plenty of supporters within Make it 16 that have right-wing views.”
Lawyer Graeme Edgeler is helping them challenge the Government in the High Court, and the Children’s Commissioner is backing them.
“We grey-haired old men and women need to know the world’s a changing place,” Andrew Becroft says.
“Young people are much more alive to the issues. They are much more schooled-up on the issues.”
The Green Party’s Chloe Swarbrick, the youngest member of Parliament, also supports the move.
“When you’re younger and trying to find your place in the world, you’re far more likely to be looking creatively and with greater curiosity about how we construct a better world for all of us.”
If the campaign’s court challenge is successful, it still needs the Government to decide to change the law.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Government has prioritised making sure those who are eligible to vote, do so.