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Majority of New Zealanders don't want voting age lowered, poll finds

A 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll has revealed the majority of people don't want the voting age lowered to 16.

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However one political scientist says casting a ballot while still living at home could help foster a lifetime habit of voting. Source: 1 NEWS

However one political scientist says casting a ballot while still living at home could help young people foster a lifetime habit of voting.

The election delay has meant some Kiwis are now able to vote this year when they wouldn't have been able to before.

Gina Dao-McLay, from campaign group Make It Sixteen, just turned 18 and can now vote. 

"The original election date of September 18 meant that I couldn't vote and I was super guttered about that," she says.

At 16, people can leave school, get married and have a firearms licence.

But not what Dao-McLay calls a fundamental human right.

"Decisions that Parliament makes are going to affect young people the most," she says.

"Particularly Covid-19 recovery, with climate change, and inequality, that affects young people."

In the latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll, New Zealanders were asked, 'Do you think the voting age should be reduced to 16?' 

Only 13 per cent said yes while the vast majority (85 per cent) said no. The rest don't know.

Those likely to vote yes include Green Party supporters and those in their 30s, while those who oppose are over 70, National supporters and from Auckland.

"People assume a lack of political maturity... and a lack of political knowledge with the young people," Victoria University's Mona Krewel says.

There are more than 15 countries around the world with a younger voting age than New Zealand, including Austria, Brazil and Scotland, where 16-year-olds can cast their vote. 

Political parties here aren't so keen on the idea.

National leader Judith Collins says she doesn't think it needs to be lowered, while Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says she "wouldn't rule it out in the future".

"But let's get civics right first," she adds.

However experts say it could help instill the voting habit in younger people.

"Living with your parents socialises you into voting, so they are taking you voting for the first time," Krewel says.

"But if you move out and vote for the first time on your own, you have a lot of other things to worry about."

Though it might be too late this time, Dao-McLay says she'll keep fighting for 16- and 17-year-olds to have the right to vote.