Keep it 18

The government plans to draft legislation to lower the voting age to 16.

. . . It follows the Supreme Court declaration on Monday morning that the current voting age of 18 is inconsistent with the right found in the New Zealand Bill of Rights to be free of discrimination on the basis of age.

But given the voting age is entrenched – meaning it requires a supermajority in the House to change – any adjustment would require the support of the National Party, which has already expressed opposition. . . .

National has other, far more important priorities:

National does not support any lowering of the voting age, National’s Justice spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“Decisions around the voting age, like other electoral laws, are decisions for a democratically accountable Parliament to make.

“Many aspects of our electoral law are decided by referendum or a super-majority of the Parliament because of their constitutional importance.

“National’s priorities in justice are reducing violent, youth and gang crime, as well as clearing Court backlogs.

“With violent crime up by 21 per cent, a 50 per cent increase in gang membership and a 500 per cent increase in ram-raids, these are pressing matters the Labour Government are failing to get under control.

“That is why National announced its plan to crack down on serious repeat youth offenders like ram-raiders to turn their lives around and to protect the public.

“Many other countries have a voting age of 18, and National has seen no compelling case to lower the age.”

Act also opposes lowering the voting age.

Constitutional matters like this requires the support of 75% of MPs, with National and Act against the move, why is the government proceeding with legislation?

It’s a waste of MPs’ and parliament staff time and taxpayer money.

It’s also more look-over-there politics when there are so many other  issues the government ought to be focusing on.

Issues such as   high inflation and an impending increase in interest rates because of that, a decrease in the prison population but an increase in violent crime, multiple crises in health that are being met with more meetings but no action, workforce shortages, high truancy and low achievement in education, attempts to reduce the road toll with discredited strategies, workforce shortages in just about every sector  . . .

The argument that younger teens wouldn’t be sufficiently informed to vote intelligently could apply to a lot of older people, but that isn’t a good argument for lowering the age.

Having more young people engaged with politics would be good for democracy but that doesn’t require the right to vote at 16.

Having more people eligible to vote won’t by itself increase the percentage voting. If the government is concerned about the number of people voting, it should address the causes rather than lowering the age.

People can drive at 16, have sex, leave school and home without permission but can’t be fully bound by any contract , such as a tenancy agreement or consumer credit contract until they’re 18. Those decisions, and the consequences of them, are personal ones that wouldn’t impact many, if any, other people.

Voting outcomes impact everyone. They change governments, policies and the country’s direction.

People have to be 18 before they can serve on a jury, the results of which affect only one person. Voting affects everyone.

Police can take under-18 year-olds home or to a youth residence or shelter if they think they’re at risk but can’t question them without a parent or guardian present.

If they are still treated as children under the law, why should they be treated as adults when it comes to voting?

No-one is allowed to marry or enter a civil union without parental permission or change their name until they’re 18 and can’t gamble until they’re 20.

Why then would they be permitted to gamble with the future of the country or change the government at 16?

Polls continually show the majority of people are opposed to a change in the voting age, the government won’t get the supermajority required to pass legislation.

It will be another expensive delivery failure but unlike all the others this failure will be popular.

One Response to Keep it 18

  1. Heather Adam says:

    Call me old-fashioned but, if I was making the decision, I would move it back to 20.

    Like

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