17 July 2019
For Immediate Release
Youth Parliament week in Parliament has seen the establishment of Make it 16, a campaign to lower the voting age in New Zealand.
“Make it 16 is a non-partisan, youth-led campaign advocating for more people’s voices to count in our democracy” says Oli Morphew, age 14, National Spokesperson for Make it 16. “We welcome anyone who wants a fairer and stronger democracy to join our campaign”.
Youth MPs representing all parliamentary parties have signed on to Make it 16.
“We’re excited to have established a campaign to lower the voting age” says Dan Harward Jones, age 17, Youth MP for Greg O’Connor. “This is the beginning of a conversation with New Zealanders about how our democracy can be stronger if we join countries like Scotland and Austria by lowering the voting age to 16.”
“Democracy is about one person, one vote.” says Molly Doyle, age 17, Youth MP for Hon James Shaw. “People who are 16 can work full-time, consent to sex, drive a car, and own guns. They should also be able to vote”.
Luke Wijohn, age 17, Youth MP for Chlöe Swarbrick emphasises that we need to move to 16 in elections at both the national and local level. “When it comes to local elections, people who own multiple properties can vote in multiple different local elections. Yet 16 and 17-year-olds don’t even have one vote.”
Many Youth MPs see huge challenges for them in their lives ahead and want an ability to influence how politicians today deal with those issues. “Young people need a greater voice because the long-term issues facing New Zealand are most going to affect us,” says Ethan Nemeroff, age 17, Youth MP for Rt Hon Winston Peters.
“Having people enrol and vote for the first time while they are at school will embed voting habits and increase participation for the future,” says Valentyn Santhara, age 18, Youth MP for David Seymour.
“Voting whilst in school also means that any increase in civics education will be more effective, as people will be able to be actively involved in New Zealand’s democracy, not just learning about it in a classroom.” says Ben Sokimi, age 17, Youth MP for Hon Simon Bridges.
“This is just the start of our campaign”, says Oli Morphew, National Spokesperson for Make it 16. “Make it 16 will be having an official launch in the coming months, but until then you can visit us on our website: makeit16nz.wordpress.com”
Children’s Commissioner supports call to lower voting age
Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft has been vocal about his support for lowering the voting age to 16 and presented a submission to the Youth Parliament Social Services Committee yesterday about this topic.
“We’ve seen this year with the climate change marches how effective and influential the youth voice can be,” says Commissioner Becroft.
“I think it’s time that New Zealand has a public discussion about allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote,” he says.
Lowering the voting age would have to go hand-in-hand with a civics education component at all secondary schools, he says.
“We support young people expressing their views on this and hope it will be listened to by both central and local government,” says Commissioner Becroft.
“New Zealand would not be alone in giving younger people the vote. Argentina, Cuba, Ecuador, Austria, Nicaragua and Brazil all have given 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote,” says Commissioner Becroft.
Oli Morphew, National Spokesperson for Make it 16: firstname.lastname@example.org