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New Zealand

No voting magic about 18 year olds

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Evidence from countries that have lowered the voting age from 18 shows that giving 16- to 17-year-olds the right to vote increases political engagement and interest.

opinion: Voting is a citizen’s right, but all democracies limit who can vote. These limits vary by time and location. Historically, New Zealand is considered a pioneer of democracy and has had many “democracy adventures,” as historian Neil Atkinson puts it.

Since 1852, we have restricted voting rights by gender, place of residence, property, miner’s rights, etc. Over time, we generally expanded our franchises and protected some rights. Added. Age is another limitation we employ, which has also expanded over the years. In 1969 it was reduced from 21 to 20 and in 1974 to 18.

On Monday, November 21, the Supreme Court declared that, among other things, provisions of the Electoral and Local Election Law that prevent young people aged 16-17 from voting are inconsistent with their right to age emancipation. Discrimination on the Basis of Discrimination in the Bill of Rights Act. Shortly thereafter, the government announced it would draft a bill to lower the voting age.

Unfortunately, the voting age debate has been captured by inflammatory and unhelpful arguments. One example is that young people are too underdeveloped to make informed electoral choices. , claims that they lack independence of thought and life experience. There are also selective comparisons with other rights and countries, and claims that there is no need or reason to prefer change.

Of course, there is no objectively “correct” age to confer the right to vote, so it cannot be determined simply by searching. There is some degree of arbitrariness in any age limit. As “Gentleman Jack” Marshall said in his 1969 debate on lowering the voting age to his 20s, “at 21… there is no special magic for voting purposes.”

Same goes for 18 or 16 year olds. Whether you prefer a voting age of 18 or 16, you can compare other civil and non-citizen rights or obligations and voting ages in other countries. However, these comparisons work equally well on both sides of the argument. Also, as the Royal Commission pointed out in 1986, comparative justification is not permanent. Changes in social and legal conditions are just as naturally … taken for granted in the same way that people who were once considered ‘naturally excluded’ from a particular citizenship are ‘full citizens’. ‘ means to be like. .

Some age limits are undeniably and possibly justifiable as they serve important social and legal functions. Age, for example, can be a proxy for maturity, knowledge, or experience, but as someone who has taught thousands of young (and not-so-young) young people (and not so young) about New Zealand politics at the university level, age doesn’t matter. We can assure you that no. A direct measure of an individual’s ability to exercise an informed vote.

Moreover, those who claim only maturity or political understanding may be justifiable reasons for restricting voting rights. It does not become

Some might argue that young people are unfairly influenced by the adults around them, such as conservative parents and “left-handed” teachers. But we are all products of the influences to which we are exposed. This is not limited to young people. In fact, research shows that educated and empowered young people wield a unique influence over adults. Young people are not passive receptacles for the political opinions of others.

Of course, one might quip, “If it’s 16, why not 14? Why not 3?” This discussion touches upon certain New Zealand rights against age-based non-discrimination from 16 years of age. So far, we have not established that the current voting age is a reasonable limit to these protections. As a friend put it, it’s not like the “Make it Three” group is trying to claim her average 3-year-old ability.

We also have to remember that just because something is “okay” now, it’s not an argument that it won’t get better. The existence of other issues does not prevent this issue from being considered. Lowering the voting age would not make New Zealand a pioneer of democracy, but it would mean we could look to research from other countries to inform our deliberations. Evidence from places that have lowered the voting age from 18 shows that it does no harm. If anything, giving her children from age 16 to the age of 17 the right to vote and educating them as citizens tends to foster engagement and interest in politics.

Early political socialization is also habit-forming and can lead to long-term improvements in voter turnout and civic attitudes. should. Moreover, the role and policy of government should be, as Jack Marshall said of his own government in 1969, “to greatly encourage the youth of our society.” This should be as true today as it was 53 years ago.

https://www.newsroom.co.nz/ideasroom/its-time-to-look-at-lowering-the-voting-age No voting magic about 18 year olds

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