Legislation that would allow more young New Jersey residents to participate in elections was advanced by a New Jersey Assembly committee on Monday.
The “New Voter Empowerment Act” bill ” (A-3591) would allow 17-year-olds to vote in a primary election if they will turn 18 on or before the next general election.
“Young people in New Jersey are eager to raise their voices and make a difference,” said Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker. “Barring voters who will be able to participate in a general election from taking part in the primary beforehand unjustifiably dampers that enthusiasm. We can’t have two categories of voters in our state. If you can vote in a general election, you should be eligible to vote in the primary.”
New Jersey would join 21 states and the District of Columbia in allowing 17-year-olds who will turn 18 during the interim period between a primary or caucus and the general election to participate in the nomination process.
“Many states permit eligible 17-year-olds to vote, because they recognize that making voters choose a candidate they had no say in nominating is fundamentally undemocratic,” said Assemblywoman Liz Muoio. “All who can vote in a general election should be afforded the opportunity to engage in the primary, too.”
The bill is sponsored by Assemby Democrats Zwicker, Muoio, Jamel Holley, Elizabeth Muoio, Tim Eustace, Arthur Barclay, Angela McKnight and Raj Mukherji.