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Voting age of 18 ‘discriminatory’ – New Zealand Supreme Court

The Supreme court in New Zealand has ruled that the current voting age of 18 is discriminatory, forcing parliament to discuss whether it should be lowered.

Reuters reports that the case, which has been going through the courts since 2020, was brought by advocacy group “Make It 16”, which wants the age lowered to include 16- and 17- year olds.

The court said the current voting age of 18 was inconsistent with the country’s Bill of Rights, which gives people a right to be free from age discrimination when they have reached 16.

The decision triggers a process in which the issue must come before parliament for discussion and be reviewed by a parliamentary select committee. But it does not force parliament to change the voting age.

“This is history,” said “Make It 16” co-director, Caeden Tipler, adding: “The government and parliament cannot ignore such a clear legal and moral message. They must let us vote.”

According to the group, there is insufficient justification to stop 16 year olds from voting when they can drive, work full time and pay tax.

New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern said the government would draft legislation to reduce the age to 16, which could then be put to a vote in parliament.

Political parties have mixed views on the subject. The Green Party wants immediate action to lower the voting age to 16, but the largest opposition party, the National party, does not support the shift.

Writing by Fany Olumoye; Editing by Tony Okerafor