Key Points:

Green Party MP Sue Bradford is drafting a bill which, if passed, would lower the voting age by two years from the current 18.

Ms Bradford says the main effect of the bill would be to lower the voting age to 16 -- and this change would go hand in hand with making civics education a compulsory part of the national education curriculum.

Is this a good idea? Should the voting age in New Zealand be lowered?

Here is a selection of Your Views:

Jacqueline Berry
This lady, Sue Bradford, needs to get out of New Zealanders lives all together. Paying her wages to tell us what to do is out of control politics, and like many of our politicians, she is way behind the eight-ball in today's world, stuck in their thinking they are. We live in a different world now, so come on NZ, grow up.
John (Auckland)
Members of Parliament are elected by we voters to represent us. Sue Bradford seems to have no real grasp of the nature of her job - she's there to solicit our views, and then articulate them. The anti-smacking legislation and the lowering of voting age aren't arising from any popular demand. They're her personal predilections, and she's using her public office to further her own politics. It is a clear abuse of power.
Adam (Auckland)
Having read some of these comments I can see a pattern emerging on both sides of the argument, those for are saying that its discriminatory, that it can be likened to the womans suffrage, and that 16 year olds are supposedly mature. And those anti are saying that from their experience 16 year olds aren't mature enough. Now I feel that the age should remain and 18 should be considered the age of responsibility period, why? Well if you asked those same 16 year olds if their 13 year old sibling should be allowed to vote they would most likely say no. yet its ok in their opinion for 16 year olds to vote, So why are they so special? Not to mention that if they want it to be lowered to 16, then as has been said before they should also be held criminally responsible for any crimes they commit at 16 and not be treated as juveniles for that instance. Lastly I find it offensive to liken this issue to the permanent discrimination of women in the past, you don't stay 16 forever so you will get to vote in only a measly 3 years unlike women of those times who would never had got the chance. So if you want to show maturity then show one of the main traits maturity grants, Patience.
Paraparaumu
Don't you get sick of politicians for whom no-one voted having the power to propose far reaching legislation (in some cases more social engineering than anything else). Case in point voting rights for 16 year olds. That is too young. And as for teaching civic education, I suppose we could make room for it during school hours by reducing class time for tiresome subjects such as Maths & English.
Michael
It has nothing to do with who is and isn't mature at age 16 or 36. The fact is, at 16, you are young. You have very little life experience, and in fact, you are gaining it a very fast rate. Whether older people are more mature or not, well, that is to be assumed, but they have more life under their belts, and that gives them the ability to say, "I have seen this and that which is why I vote this". Sure 18 is still not 36, but putting it down further is a step back. When 16, be 16, not 36.
Sense & sensibilty
I have been entertained for the last 1/2 hour reading through the letters submitted on the subject of bringing down the voting age to 16 years. I think the decision is unanimous. Should the Labour party support this idea - following the 'anti-smacking bill' the country's intelligent will decide we are overdue a change of government. John, must be laughing his head off. (Did you know you were working for the National Party Sue?) Sue should leave parenting up to the parents. As far as I know, there has always been a law against abusing children but has it stopped the problem. No! Voting age 16 years, another idiotic idea.
A Parent's view
One might have guessed that this would be another one of Sue Bradford "brainstorms".
Reasoning: 16-year-olds would be easier to socially engineer, and more likely to be "idealistic" and therefore likely to vote for "the Greenies". I would like to suggest that 'if a 16-year-old is able to stand on their own two feet and make their way in this world then yes, by all means, give them the vote. Many parents would agree, 16-year-olds often think they know everything, but do not. 30 being the new 21 (yrs, that is). A 16-year-old should be concerned with education, socialising, or perhaps trying to work out what they want to do with their life, not worrying about politics.

Sam Hannagan
The people who oppose the bill are the sort of people who would of opposed women's suffrage 100 years ago. Just because some people are not mature enough or do not have the capacity. If this is the case, no would should vote, there are people in each age group who do not have the maturity or capacity to vote. Personally, I believe that those who oppose this bill are happy to oppress their fellow man, or the youth at least. It would just be unthinkable giving teenagers to decide for themselves. It is better done now, otherwise the voting numbers will not increase.
No taxation without represention!
Has this woman nothing better to do than cause misery and mayhem in the lives of ordinary New Zealanders? Perhaps she should get a real job then she wouldn't have the time to come up with such stupid ideas. Wake up lady and stop using politics to satisfy your desire to be 'seen and heard'. Join a theatre group where your imagination can be put to good use.
Walter
Of course - some of the younger ones are interested in politics, give them the change - New Zealand is their future.
Marty (J'ville)
I will consider that the Greens are actually serious about this if they also call for the age of criminal responsibility to be dropped to 16 as well. If, according to Bradford, someone is old enough to make an informed choice about how NZ is to be governed, then they must also be old enough to be accountable for their actions. Can't see them doing that though, we can't have people being responsible for their actions, that's not the socialist way. The Green party are like watermelons, green on the outside but red to the core. I can't believe why any sane person would vote for them but that's democracy at work, even idiots (over 18) get to vote.
Captain Sensible
I worry that anyone who - at age 16 - is keen to evade arrest whilst street racing, would know what kind of social and economic policies would best support honest Kiwis fighting hard to protect their savings, properties and kids and to shape a more peaceful, responsible and tolerant community?
Arnie FB
"No taxation without representation". If 16 years are good enough to pay tax they're good enough to vote!
Kay Corry
We are told that kids of 16 should be able to vote according to Sue Bradford - they will learn about politics etc, at school. Well first you have to get them to school and as you have no control over what they do anymore and can't use any kind of discipline (you are seen as a bad parent) how does the mighty mouth of Bradford expect to teach these kids politics? It takes the teachers all their time to get them to do actual schoolwork let alone anything else that requires brainwork. Now that all control has been taken away from their parents/teachers they have no respect or care. There may be the odd few but the majority can't even decide on getting up in the morning let alone have a say in how the country is run. I can't believe the politicians and those in power even contemplate what this woman has to say.
FG (Auckland)
I am definitely not in favour of lowering the voting age to 16 years. What will these politicians dream up next! The majority of enrolled eligible voters in NZ don't even exercise their right to vote and its usually the ones that don't vote that have the loudest say. Why don't they bring in a system like they have in Australia where you get fined if you don't vote, or why bother enrolling at all!
Huang, (Waitakere)
Will any MP face up to the realities of MMP circus, and push a private member's bill to scrap MMP. Shame on you overaged kids!
Robert 'concerned student' Nairn, (Wellington)
This is an issue that is bound to be controversial if it gets picked from the ballot, but whether it does or not, it's an issue that needs to be under debate.I personally find accusations of 16 year olds not being eligible to vote based on their maturity or intelligence offensive and inappropriate. Tv3 asking students at Wellington High School who the Foreign Affairs Minister is or what MMP stands for could just as well have asked the teacher or their parents, and got a similar response. We don't apply this sort of discrimination towards adults of voting age to see if they are mature or intelligent enough to vote (some surely would not be), so we should not demean 16 year olds in the same vain. It's undemocratic.It's a fact that if we are to have a robust democracy we need more voters as research as shown that if you vote in your first election you are much more likely to vote in the future. Teaching civics education compulsorily will mean that secondary students will, when it is time to vote, have the capacity to do so because they understand how the system works.
Richard Green (Auckland Central)
It amazes me that those shouting the loudest that 16 is too young to vote because of a lack of maturity or misinformation sound like a bunch of school kids attacking a peer over an idea they don't agree with. Rather than dealing with the issue, that of democracy and representation, they choose to attack the proposer, Sue Bradford. The fact is many people who vote nowadays are misinformed and apathetic to the realities of running a country. Look at the huge swing to National when they promised a few more dollars in the back pocket. All the other important issues were forgotten. Sue Bradford et al are paid by us, the people, to offer new directions, laws, legislation etc as part of their role as an MP. You don't have to agree with what she says, but at least have the maturity to participate in an informed debate rather than a mud slinging match.
Kirsten
I agree and disagree. Sue Bradford has merits about teaching our kids civics in class. Learn about politics and voting I fully agree with this. However, allowing 16yr olds to make informed choices about who will run this country when realistically half can't even decide what to wear or who to hang out with seems a bit idiotic. Sue you could do far better by suggesting the driving age be increased to 18 than lowering voting to 16. Good luck but I for one will not be voting your way in the coming election.
Kimmi from Henderson, parent
I do not agree with this proposal. I think it is unfair to put such young uninformed people in such a position. They have enough to grabble with being teenagers let alone voting. I was not nor did I want to (or my friends) vote until I was 20. Even then I was not properly informed or understood how the voting system worked. Let children be children for a little longer. They already have too much on their plate.
Paul Davey
I have to wonder what colour the sky is in Sue Bradford's world. The "average" 16-year-old is little prepared for the challenges of the modern world. They give little care to such concerns as health, roading, social welfare etc. Their vote is likely to be easily "bought" by the temptation of lowering the drinking age or legalising cannabis - hardly policies that will steer the country to greater prosperity. This is a crazy, deluded and misguided idea which is cynically aimed at increasing the Green's voter base.
Ana (Dunedin)
I believe that the voting age should be lowered to 16 because that age group should have a voice in laws being passed that affect them. I was 17 when I started university. That year was an election year, and elections were held just three weeks before my 18th birthday. I was directly affected by issues such as student loans, but I was unable to vote on the issue. A lot of the current voting population left school at 16, so they have equivalent education to today's 16-year-olds. The only real difference is life experience, and the amount of life experience that a 16-year-old has compared to that of an 18-year-old is similar.
This is a democratic country. 16-year-olds are not as immature as some of you think. Their voice should be heard. If you treat them like adults, they will act like adults.

1983 kid (Auckland)
Lowering the voting age from 18 to 16? Sue Bradford must be joking! If the voting age limit can be reduced to 16 why not reduce it down to 12-years-old? If many people claim that 16 is a mature age why not reduce the age limit of consuming and buying alcohol to 16 too? 16-year-olds are still kids regardless whether they are mature or not. In many anthropologists', social workers' and sociologists' points of view, the age 16 is not only considered not mature enough but also is considered still as a child. Why reduce from 18 to 16 years of age when it comes to voting? Encouraging 16-year-old kids to vote is very dangerous idea because to ask a kid to vote for a party does not one hundred per cent guarantee that the child will stick to the party that he or she votes for. As you and me know very well, kids under the age of 18 are notorious for changing their minds out of the blue (make that overnight or within a span of couple of hours!) Moreover, this will create a political imbalance in New Zealand. Do we want a political imbalance to happen in reality here in New Zealand?
Robbie - again
Weren't we just the other day saying that 16-17 year olds were too immature to drive a car, yet they can choose the road New Zealand goes down.
Chris
I have to remind my 16-year-old every morning to brush his teeth, comb his hair, make his bed, put his homework in his bag. Do I think he is ready to make an informative decision on who/how the country should be run? A big no! He cannot even make simple judgement calls yet. Sue B reminds me of a stray uninvited dog appearing on your property, wanting to make it's mark by marking it's territory and yapping loudly so as to seem like it's running the show there. The solution is we can call the SPCA to remove this unwanted and irreverent annoyance from our property. But we don't seem to have the option of a SPCA in parliament?
BC
You've got to be kidding! Where does this woman get her ideas from?
Carol (Wellington)
This forum has taken 'shooting the messenger' to a whole new level! Can't people try to discuss the merits of the idea?
Danny
Lowering the age to 16 is a great idea. When I was 16 I recall having more political awareness and nouse, and stronger, more justified views than every member of my family. At the time I convinced my parents (swing voters) to cast their votes as I dictated. This move would help cease the alienation our youth are feeling in today's society and make them more community involved. I have a feeling that most of the 90 per cent of people in the poll who are against this idea are blinded by their general dislike of Sue Bradford, and also boy racer culture being portrayed as having an exclusive relationship with 16 and 17 year olds. Shame on you!
Dan (Bay of Islands)
Just what does this woman think she is to come up with more stupid ideas? Are the Greens and any party foolish enough to support her in lowering the voting age to 16 that desperate for votes next election? Labour surely must of learnt something after seeing National race ahead in the polls after Bradfords anti-smacking bill, and the same will happen again. The end result will be what many New Zealanders want, a one party government. This woman has developed an ego of amazing proportions, and seems to truly believe that she is God's answer to NZ's problems, instead you have become one of NZ's many problems Sue. The age of maturity was 21, and many still celebrate that. The drinking age was lowered to 18 I believe this was vote catching also, and look what has happened with that. I do hope that New Zealanders are not stupid enough to support you over this, and that you become part of our history at the next election, my advice is 'forget it' and concentrate on issues that have far greater importance, because that is really what you are paid to do. Your CV for further employment in running our country is looking rather grim.
Sid
No Matt, the replies to this show how out of touch Sue Bradford is with reality. In her world children and teenagers are all mature, reasoned and responsible, and ready to partake in society at the same level as adults. In scientific reality the age that the human brain reaches maturity is twenty four. The current voting age is a more than adequate compromise.
Graeme
Let kids be kids. Instead of dropping the age limit for voting, we should be increasing the age for marriage, driving and anything else that requires a reasonable level of maturity - to 18 years. Time for Sue Bradford to get real!
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