New Zealand Supreme Court finds not letting 16-year-olds vote a human rights violation

When a group of teens sued the government of New Zealand to get the voting age lowered to 16, they probably didn’t think it was going to actually work.

But the Supreme Court agreed with the lawsuit and ruled that a voting age of 18 was discriminatory against 16 and 17-year-olds. 

Make It 16’s Caeden Tipler, a 17-year-old girl whose pronouns are they/them, cheered the decision.

“We now have the legal backing for what we’ve always known,” Tipler said. “I became incredibly frustrated. I felt like I knew just as much as the adults around me… I was more than capable of voting.”

No representation?

The group argued that the teens should have the right to vote on things that affect them, like climate change. The other prevailing argument is that teens can get jobs and pay taxes, so they should have representation.

The court apparently ignored human development facts that say teens’ brains are not sufficiently developed at the age of 16 or 17 to make adult decisions.

In addition, teens in most states need a work permit from their schools to get a job, and they face more restrictions on their hours until they are 18 because of school.

Left-leaning political parties know that young people overwhelmingly vote their way, so they have pushed for the voting age to be lowered because it gives them a voting advantage.

Will it change?

The law will not automatically change because of the court’s ruling, and will need 75% of the legislature to vote for any change.

With the current distribution of legislators and the National and Labour parties both likely opposing any change, the voting age will probably remain 18 for the time being.

Until 1971 when the 26th amendment was ratified, the voting age in the U.S. was 21 years old.

The change came after the military draft age was lowered to 18, and some argued that if a person was old enough to serve their country, they should be able to vote.