What age is the right age to begin participating in democracy?
New Zealand’s Prime Minister has sharply refused to consider lowering the voting age to 16.
Discussion began after the Children’s Commissioner said that it was the right time to consider the idea, because getting people involved in politics earlier could only be a positive step for democracy.
“They are basically disenfranchised. The questions that touch them haven’t been handled well,” Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft said.
However Prime Minister Bill English says there distinctly won’t be any changes.
“I’m certainly excluding it between now and the next election” he said.
It has always been hard getting young people to vote. Community group Rock Enrol organized parties before the last election to encourage New Zealand’s youth to vote.
Laura O’Connel-Rapira from Rock Enrol says, “We have various ideas, different visions, diverse thoughts about what the future is going to be, and eventually I think we should have a say.”
There are precedents for allowing younger people to have the vote. After voting age was dropped in Scotland, Brazil, Austria, Argentina, surveys showed that starting to vote from younger age can ensure lifetime participation.