Home>Highlight>Assembly panel to weigh bill allowing 17-year-olds to vote in primaries Wednesday

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Assembly panel to weigh bill allowing 17-year-olds to vote in primaries Wednesday

Measure would give underage residents suffrage if they turn 18 before general election

By Nikita Biryukov, May 10 2021 3:44 pm

The Assembly State and Local Government Committee will weigh a bill allowing 17-year-olds who would turn 18 by the general election to vote in the state’s primaries Wednesday.

“Getting young people a chance to have their voice heard is critically important,” said Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick), its chief sponsor in the lower chamber. “That was my motivation back in 2016. It remains my motivation now.”

Though New Jersey allows its 17-year-old residents to register to vote, it does not allow them to cast ballots until they turn 18.

Nineteen other states, including Delaware and Connecticut, already allow 17-year-old residents who would be 18 on the day of the general election to cast ballots in primaries and caucuses.

An identical bill cleared the Assembly without much trouble in 2018, though the Senate version stalled after the Senate State and Local Government Committee unanimously voted to pass it.

It was not posted for a vote before the full chamber that legislative session despite overwhelmingly passing the chamber before being absolutely vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie in 2016.

Zwicker was unsure whether the bill, sponsored by top Senate Democrats — including Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck), President Pro Tem Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark) and State and Local Government Chairman James Beach (D-Voorhees) — would face difficulties in the Senate this time around.

“I haven’t talked to anyone in the upper chamber this time around, so I don’t know,” the assemblyman said.” I hope not, but we’ll have those conversations once it comes out of the Assembly.”

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