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The time has come for 16 year olds to get the vote
5 October 2021
The Children’s Commissioner is welcoming the Government’s review into our election laws as the perfect opportunity to extend the right to vote to 16 and 17 year olds.
The Government announced today that it would be conducting a comprehensive review into New Zealand’s electoral laws, including the voting age.
“The time has come to ensure the right to vote for 16 and 17 year olds,” Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft said.
“Younger New Zealanders have a right to a say in the matters that affect them – extending the right to vote is one fantastic way to ensure their voice is heard.”
“Young people are up for it. We have seen the idealism and thoughtfulness young people can bring when they consider issues like eliminating racism, supporting mental wellbeing, or tackling the climate crisis. It only makes sense that they have the right to hold leaders to account and act on their concerns.”
“When 16 and 17 year olds vote, policy that affects young people and their future will improve. Imagine how different our child poverty statistics would be if some of the young people directly affected by them could vote,” Commissioner Becroft said.
Evidence from overseas shows that extending the vote to 16 and 17 year olds works. In Austria and Scotland, where the right to vote has been extended to 16 and 17 year olds, young people participate more in democracy and have higher levels of trust in democratic institutions.
“Children are the only demographic who don’t have a voice. Let’s take this opportunity to guarantee them a voice and build a lifelong habit of voting.” Commissioner Becroft said.