Bill Would Allow More Young NJ Residents To Vote In Primary Elections

Apr 5, 2018


High school students Varun Seetamraj and Jason Lam testify at Assembly committee hearing.

More young people in New Jersey might be able to vote in primary elections if a bill advancing in the legislature becomes law.


What’s called the ‘New Voter Empowerment Act’ would allow 17-year-olds to vote in a primary election if they’d turn 18 by the general election.


Varun Seetamraju is a high school student in Basking Ridge. He says that change would allow thousands of first-time voters to have a say in the outcome of primary election races.


“Nowadays a lot of primaries are hotly contested and every vote matters. But it also matters to how these candidates know what our issues are and what our beliefs are. The issue is if we can’t vote, a lot of times they don’t take us seriously.”


Jason Lam is a high school student in Bridgewater. He says the first time you vote is probably going to be the most exciting.


“If students are not allowed to vote in a primary and only allowed to vote in a general, then they’re really just voting for a party. They’re not voting for a candidate who they could have backed within the primary. So we think that if we can get students excited about finding a candidate they want to back in the primary and going all the way to the general election, it’s much more likely that they’ll be voting when they’re 20, 30, 40 and so on.”


The League of Women Voters of New Jersey supports the legislation.


If the bill is enacted, the change in the law would not take effect until January.