Council supports lowering voting age to 16
Kāpiti Coast District Council is backing a national campaign to lower the voting age to 16 years of age.
A majority of councillors supported a notice of motion submitted by Cr Sophie Handford at today’s Council meeting endorsing the Make It 16: Lower the Voting Age campaign.
Cr Handford said it was time to put faith in the large group of young people in our community who are or will be affected by the decisions Council makes.
“Young people are not only the future of our district but are here right now, and their voices deserve to be heard.”
The motion notes the Supreme Court’s ruling that preventing 16- and 17-year-olds from voting is unjustified age discrimination and a breach of the Bill of Rights Act, and the Government’s intention to draft legislation to make 16 the voting age.
It also recommends Council submit its support to the select committee reviewing the draft legislation and support civics education in secondary schools.
“There are so many good arguments for lowering the voting age. At 16, rangatahi are already making huge decisions about their lives, and can work full time, pay rent and taxes, drive, get married, and come face to face with the cost of living, housing, and climate crisis challenges that the rest of our community face,” Cr Handford said.
“We need to make it easier for our youth to be involved in the solutions our people and planet desperately need, to create a better future for themselves and the generations to come.”
“Lowering the voting age tells our young people we respect them and want them to be actively involved in decisions that affect their future.”
“It also strengthens our democracy by allowing diverse voices to be heard by Council and helps us make decisions that benefit a more representative group of our citizens.”
Council’s decision is in step with other local bodies who have announced their support of a lower voting age and reflects recommendations in the Review into the Future of Local Government draft report that is now open for consultation, Cr Handford said.