Politics

Two Sides: Should 16-year-olds have the right to vote?

A bid for 16-year-olds to have the right to vote is heading back to court on Tuesday.

Despite the Court of Appeal conceding that the voting age of 18 was discrimination, which the Government could not justify, it stopped short of issuing a formal declaration of inconsistency.

Campaign group Make It 16 is hoping the Supreme Court takes that step.

Speaking on Tova, Make It 16 co-director Cate Tipler says a formal declaration of inconsistency would be a 'huge win'.

"It would put pressure on Parliament to lower the voting age," they say.

"The Crown wants to argue that this is a political issue. But what we know is that voting is a fundamental human right and there is insufficient justification to stop 16-year-olds from voting when we can drive, work full-time and pay taxes.

"We just need to convince Parliament that it's the right thing to do because we know it's the right thing to do, and that's what a declaration of inconsistency would do."

There’s been growing support for 16-year-olds to have the right to vote from the Green Party, the Electoral Commission and more than 70 mayors and councillors are behind it.

But political commentator, Liam Hehir, says it’s not that straightforward.

"There have been public polls on this and normally the range of opposition from the general public is between something like 85 and 88 percent of the population," he tells Tova.  

"So there's a very, very strong consensus on the idea that it [the population] hasn't budged and it's against it."

"I understand that amongst elite classes, amongst the chattering classes, it's quite popular.

"But it's not going to change the fact that actually, it's way out of step with the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders."

Listen to the full 'Two Sides' debate between Cate Tipler, Liam Hehir and Tova above.

You can also download the full interview on the Tova podcast, and listen on the go. Check it out on the rova app or wherever you get your podcasts.