Youth councillor backs calls for lowering voting age to 16

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    Several voices in the South are asking for a lower voting age, including Invercargill Youth councillor Madison Flannery.

    YOUNG southern voices are challenging the notion they are mature enough to own a gun but not mature enough to vote.

    Among them is Invercargill Youth councillor Madison Flannery (18).

    While she said some people believed 16-year-olds were not mature enough to vote, she countered that argument by saying they were mature enough to obtain a firearms or driver’s license.

    “I think we need to keep to the same standard things aren’t a human right whereas voting is a fundamental human right.”

    She said 16-year-olds would take voting seriously as they would feel their voice would be heard.

    “If we want to lower the age to 16 I think we need to increase education around civics… at the moment education in schools about politics and civics and things like that

    There was conversation around lowering the voting age both in school and at Youth Council, but views were varied.

    “I think there is definitely an appetite for it, especially with Covid-19 and climate change. A lot of youth will go, voice does need to be heard’ which is really valid.”

    She also said it was important to remove any systemic barriers stopping anyone from minority groups from voting.

    Make it 16 was formed in July 2019 by young people above and below the present voting age, advocating to lower the voting age in New Zealand; treasurer Liam Barnes (17) was from Invercargill.

    When asked if there was much support for a lower voting age, a response given to the Southland Express said the team had been heartened by the many people getting in touch to say they had been convinced by media appearances from its campaign spokespeople.

    “At the moment support for change in public polls is low, but what you do see overseas, is that when countries lower their voting age, people’s views change.

    “In Scotland, the idea of lowering the voting age to 16 was unpopular before they changed the voting age (about 30% supported), but now that 16-year-olds can vote in all Scottish elections there’s at least 60% support for a voting age of 16.”

    It said it supported more civics education in schools, but it was not a good excuse to keep the voting age at 18.

    “Extending the vote to 16-year-olds is a great prompt for more civics in schools and makes both the voting and the civics education better. Being able to vote while you are still at high school makes civics education practical and empowering.”

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