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.
Using the school system, civics could be taught as part of the social studies curriculum. When I went through school a number of decades ago, social studies revolved around the study of other cultures. I remember learning about Samoa and Kenya but nothing on our own country, let alone the New Zealand legal system, voting, social make up and social issues related to New Zealand.
Many 16-year-olds have a very grounded view and a vast knowledge when it come to the issues were have as an country. I constantly find myself amazed just how well informed they are, along with their ability to reason and argue a particular point of view.
Around the world, 18 seems to be the age of eligibility for voting. We live in a progressive society and we were leaders when it came to the voting rights of woman. We give teenagers so many rights, but voting still needs to be included as one of them.
Our youth should have the right to determine our future as they have more invested in the future and the shape of the country that they are members of.
So come on New Zealand, let’s make a change for the benefit of generations to come. By doing so, we stand behind the future of this country and the rights we have already given. Anything less would be hypocritical.