Member of the Make It 16 campaign

Make it 16 for democracy

Watch the video recording of the presentation by Anika Green, Caitlin Taylor and Sanat Singh from the Make It 16 campaign given at the Trust Democracy meeting of 1 December 2022.
Read the transcript of the presentation by Make It 16.
Download the presentation slides.
Read the Make It 16 ‘Cheat Sheet’, with all the best arguments when having open discussions about lowering the voting age. [Opens in a new tab]
Read details about the meeting.
Visit to find out more about the campaign.

I thought that last night’s meeting with Make It 16 was superb. Very articulate young people on a mission. I hope that we interact more with them.

Feedback from a Trust Democracy member

It’s no secret that electoral representative democracies around the world are in trouble. Particularly in the more established democracies, citizens are losing trust and confidence in both their elected representatives and democratic institutions. There is a sense that ‘the system’ has not kept up with the times, that it has been captured, and that it has run out of energy and vitality.

We should note, however, that democracies have faced similar issues in the past and overcome them. From the late 1800s onwards, one of the main ways states have done this is by extending the vote to more citizens – e.g., non-landowners, women, younger cohorts, etc. David Runciman, the Professor of Politics at Cambridge University, believes that democracies now need to extend the franchise again and start experimenting with new ways of involving citizens such as citizens’ assemblies

Work is underway on both fronts in New Zealand. For example, the Government’s Review into the Future of Local Government is recommending that the voting age for local elections be lowered to 16 and that more use is made of deliberative public engagement. Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures has just facilitated New Zealand’s first citizens’ assembly process for Watercare and Trust Democracy is currently collaborating with Local Government New Zealand to support deliberative engagement

But the biggest push for extending the vote to more citizens is coming from Make It 16, a youth-led, non-partisan, grassroots campaign. 

Trust Democracy was extremely pleased that Anika Green, Caitlin Taylor and Sanat Singh from Make It 16 accepted our invitation to a meeting to talk about their campaign, the case for making it 16, why they got involved, their experience of democratic participation as young people, the Supreme Court’s ruling in their favour, and the future for Make It 16. 

You can watch their presentation below, but the following quotes will give you a taste of what was said and a sense of their pro-democracy ambitions. 

We believe in terms of why the voting age should be lowered to 16 that issues that are disproportionately affecting our rangatahi across Aotearoa need these young people at the decision-making table to have that most direct influence on these decisions that will fundamentally shape our future. And we believe … that rangatahi have proven themselves … to care enough about democracy and politics, in order to show up in it.

Anika Green

The Electoral Act and the Local Electoral Act say that everyone 18 years and older has the right to vote. Yet the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act says our right to be free from age discrimination commences from the age of 16. So there is a direct clash between those 2 laws.

Caitlin Taylor

Over emphasis on voting and that 3-year election cycle is not conducive to a healthy democracy. What is instead conducive to a healthy democracy is a culture of participating in civic discussions regardless of whether or not it’s election year … What we really need to be doing as a movement, and as a collective set of organisations that are invested in the health of our democracy, is to design and create a civics culture for young people that is a lot different to what it currently looks like today.

Sanat Singh

We are now, in some senses, a world-leading campaign. There are no grassroots movements in the world that … have reached this level of scale or relevance in political discussions … So we’re very much carving the way for other grassroots movements in Australia and the US and Canada and the UK … to come out and start really fighting for this

Sanat Singh

Trust Democracy would like to thank Anika, Caitlin and Sanat for their inspiring presentation and work.

We would also like to invite you, the reader, to support the Make It 16 campaign by:

  • Joining their mailing list
  • Making a donation
  • Helping them connect with people and communities
  • Helping them raise awareness and change minds when you get the chance!

Please also consider supporting the work of Trust Democracy by clicking here.

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