New Zealand decides to lower the voting age from 18 to 16

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – New Zealand lawmakers will vote on whether to lower the national voting age from 18 to 16, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.

Her announcement came hours after the country’s Supreme Court ruled that not allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to vote constituted age discrimination.

But while Ardern said she personally supports lowering the age, such a change would require a 75 percent majority of lawmakers to agree. And even proponents admit they don’t currently have numbers.

A number of countries are debating whether to lower their voting age. Some that allow people to vote at 16 are Austria, Malta, Brazil, Cuba and Ecuador.

Sanat Singh, co-director of New Zealand’s Make It 16 campaign, said he was absolutely delighted with the court’s decision.

“It’s a big day,” he said. “This is historic not only for our campaign but also for the country.”

Singh, 18, said existential issues like climate change — as well as issues like pandemic recovery and the state of democracy — will affect young people the most.