Sen. Zwicker, Asm. Freiman & Asw. Drulis Announce Immediate Project Revival, New Contractor for Route 206 Construction

July 22, 2024

Gov. Phil Murphy has signed legislation allowing 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections as long as they’ll turn 18 before the general election, adding a small but potentially impactful new pool of voters to the state’s primary electorate beginning in 2026.

“Across government, we see how the decisions we make today impact future generations,” Murphy said of the bill, titled the New Voter Empowerment Act. “I am proud to sign legislation that expands access to the ballot box while engaging and empowering a new generation of voters.”

The governor’s signature is a long-belated victory for State Sen. Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick), who first introduced the bill as an assemblyman in 2016; it was the first bill he ever authored in the legislature.

That session, it passed both the Senate and the Assembly but was vetoed by then-Gov. Chris Christie, who said that allowing 17-year-olds to vote in any election was “legally questionable.” Christie left office in 2018, but Zwicker struggled to marshal the same legislative support behind the bill after he was gone, and it got stuck in purgatory for several years. Zwicker said the delay was largely because the legislature shifted its focus towards other voting-related issues during the Covid pandemic.

“We spent a lot of time making sure that, during the pandemic, people had the ability to vote,” Zwicker told the New Jersey Globe in May. “Working with election officials, clerks, et cetera – all of our focus was there. And now that we’re on the other side of that, we can go back and start looking at things like this. This is something that’s been on my list for a long time.”

With the major voting reforms of the Covid era now largely implemented, the bill finally became unstuck this session. It passed the Assembly 50-24 in May and the Senate 24-11 in December, with all “no” votes coming from Republicans.

“‘One person, one vote’ is at the heart of our democracy and I am happy to see it signed into law,” Zwicker said in a statement today. “At a time when our politics is polarized and when too many people stay home on Election Day, it is time to engage and empower a new generation of voters so that they may have a say in the future of our great state.”