News | 16 December 2022

We support lowering the voting age to 16!

In Aotearoa, 16-year-olds can pay tax, protest, petition, work, and drive. But why can’t they vote?

Young person playing scrabble at a table.

Wellington is home to a diverse, creative, and talented population of 16-and 17-year-olds who want to have a say on the issues they are passionate about.  

Young people have advocated to be included in the electoral process for many years, yet the current voting age excludes 16-and 17-year-olds from participating. 

When asked about why they want to see a change in voting age, Wellington City Youth Councillor Teresa points out that young people have been trying to make their voices heard for a long time. 

“Young people have worked to be involved throughout the entirety of the time we have had an electoral system. We join campaigns, we protest, we petition – we just can't vote.” 

In August 2021, the Wellington City Council committed to advocate to lower the voting age to 16, as laid out in the Strategy for Children and Young People. This strategy was adopted after extensive engagement and consultation with young people.  

The Council has recently made a submission to the Independent Electoral Review panel in support of lowering the age and acknowledging the tireless efforts of young people in this space.  

Including 16-and 17-year-olds in the democratic process will be pivotal in creating a brighter future for people, businesses, and the planet says Wellington City Council Youth Councillor Nīkau. 

“The way that our political leaders respond to issues like climate change and social inequality will drastically impact the future of young people across Aotearoa. We should be afforded a voice on political decisions that will inevitably impact us.”  

Wellington City Youth Council Deputy Chair Josh believes that changing the age could actively help educate and engage rangatahi. 

“I think that 16 is a great age where students are still in school and can learn more about government. I learnt about voting and elections for the first time in year nine and then I didn’t get to use it. 

“Like everyone else I completely forgot about all of that stuff - if I had been actually given an opportunity to utilise that knowledge, I think I would have been properly set up to vote for life.”