Greens back lowering voting age to 16

The Green Party wants 16-year-olds to get the vote.

MP Golriz Ghahraman says youth should have their say on who runs the country.

"Young people are experiencing the healthcare system, the justice system, housing, differently than older people," she told Newshub.

The Greens have added the proposal to Ghahraman's Strengthening Democracy Member's Bill, which would also overturn the prisoner voting ban, adopt recommendations made by the 2012 MMP review and tighten limits on party donations.

Ghahraman says it makes sense to let 16-year-olds vote.

"We let them leave school, we let them get a job and pay tax. So in fact, it's probably unfair those young people have no say in the representative democracy that they live in." 

Co-leader James Shaw said he realised 16-year-olds were capable of making up their minds during the recent school strikes against climate change.

"They're allowed to leave home, learn to drive, work and pay taxes, they should be allowed to elect politicians making decisions about their future," he told Stuff.

Golriz Ghahraman.
Golriz Ghahraman. Photo credit: The AM Show

The Greens want their suggestions rolled into Justice Minister Andrew Little's Electoral Amendment Bill, which is currently at the select committee stage.

Little has previously said lowering the voting age is "not part of the coalition agreement between Labour and New Zealand First or the confidence and supply agreement between Labour and the Greens". 

Ghahraman's Bill is yet to be drawn from the ballot.

The Greens are the only party who back letting 16-year-olds vote, but they have support from the Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft.

National Party MP youth spokesperson Nicola Willis told Newshub in July her party opposes letting 16-year-olds vote.

"You can't marry at 16, you can't buy alcohol at 16, you can't serve in the army at 16 and I don't think you should be able to vote then either."

Sixteen-year-olds can vote in a number of countries, including Cuba, Brazil, Scotland, Ethiopia, Ecuador, Austria and Nicaragua. 

Willis denied National's opposition to the change was because young people tend to support Labour and the Greens, rather than National.