As of 2024, the topic of voting rights for 17-year-olds has seen significant developments in several U.S. states. Specifically, in New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy signed the “New Voter Empowerment Act” into law. This legislation allows 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections if they will turn 18 by the time of the following general election. The law, however, will not take effect until January 2026. This means that in New Jersey, 17-year-olds will be able to participate in primary elections beginning in 2026, provided they meet the age requirement for the subsequent general election.

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New Jersey joins nineteen other states and Washington, D.C., in allowing some 17-year-olds to vote under certain conditions. This move is seen as a way to engage more young voters in the democratic process, aiming to cultivate a more informed and active citizenry from a younger age. The law is a reflection of the state’s commitment to expanding democracy and encouraging youth participation in the electoral process.

Key Aspects and Points


  • Hook: Start with an engaging statement about the evolving nature of voting rights.
  • Context: Briefly introduce the concept of extending voting rights to younger individuals, focusing on recent developments for 17-year-olds.
  • Thesis Statement: Outline the essay’s focus, such as examining the implications, rationale, and potential impacts of allowing 17-year-olds to vote in certain elections.

Body Paragraphs

  • Paragraph 1: Historical Context and Current Status
    • Discuss the historical perspective on voting age requirements.
    • Present the current status of 17-year-olds’ voting rights in various regions, including recent developments in New Jersey and other states.
  • Paragraph 2: Rationale Behind the Change
    • Explore the reasons for lowering the voting age in primaries, such as increased political engagement and representation of youth interests.
  • Paragraph 3: Benefits of Youth Involvement in Elections
    • Analyze the potential benefits of involving 17-year-olds in the electoral process, such as fostering civic responsibility and diversifying the electorate.
  • Paragraph 4: Challenges and Criticisms
    • Discuss the challenges and criticisms of lowering the voting age, including concerns about maturity and political knowledge.
  • Paragraph 5: Comparative Analysis
    • Compare the approach to youth voting rights in the United States with other countries, exploring different perspectives and practices.


  • Summary: Recap the main points made in the essay, reinforcing the significance of the topic.
  • Restate Thesis: Reiterate the thesis statement, highlighting how the essay has addressed it.
  • Closing Thoughts: Offer final reflections on the future of youth voting rights and the potential long-term impacts on democratic participation and engagement.

This outline provides a structured approach to discussing the complex and evolving issue of voting rights for 17-year-olds, blending historical context, current developments, and a forward-looking perspective.

Suggested sources and references:

  • Bergh, J. (2013). Does voting rights affect the political maturity of 16- and 17-year-olds? Findings from the 2011 Norwegian voting-age trial. In Electoral Studies (Vols. 32, pp. 90-100). Electoral Studies. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.ELECTSTUD.2012.11.001
  • Briggs, J. Should 16- and 17-Year Olds Be Given the Right to Vote? (pp. 109-157). https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-31385-0_5
  • Hart, D., & Atkins, R. (2011). American Sixteen- and Seventeen-Year-Olds Are Ready to Vote. In The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (Vols. 633, pp. 201-222). The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002716210382395
  • Peto, T. (2020). Too Immature to Vote?. In Erasmus law review (Vols. 13, pp. 60-77). Erasmus law review. https://doi.org/10.5553/elr.000165
  • Lang, A. (2023). Voting at 16? 16–17‐Year‐Old Germans Vote as Correctly as Adults. In Political Psychology. Political Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1111/pops.12892
  • Fife-Schaw, C., & Breakwell, G. (1990). Predicting the Intention Not to Vote in Late Teenage: A U.K. Study of 17- and 18-Year-Olds. In Political Psychology (Vols. 11, pp. 739-755). Political Psychology. https://doi.org/10.2307/3791481
  • Stubbs, M., & Piccolo, R. (2018). Lowering the voting age: A human rights perspective (Vols. 40, p. 22). https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/edf6503fd9877275cc51cb864b7463a16dda4c7f

Suggested reading:

  • Lankford, R. D. (2007). Should the Voting Age Be Lowered?. Greenhaven Publishing. http://books.google.com/books?id=STNeGgAACAAJ&dq=Voting+Rights+of+17-year-olds&hl=&source=gbs_api
  • Eichhorn, J., & Bergh, J. (2019). Lowering the Voting Age to 16. Springer Nature. https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=5L_ADwAAQBAJ&source=gbs_api
  • Grover, S. C. (2010). Young People’s Human Rights and the Politics of Voting Age. Springer Science & Business Media. https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=QIMjF8oGaW4C&source=gbs_api
  • England, C. R. A. for. (2000). The Real Democratic Deficit. http://books.google.com/books?id=-EJVYgEACAAJ&dq=Voting+Rights+of+17-year-olds&hl=&source=gbs_api
  • Winter, J. (2015). Lillian’s Right to Vote. Anne Schwartz Books. https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=1PHdBAAAQBAJ&source=gbs_api
  • McNamara, M. (2020). Vote for Our Future!. Schwartz & Wade. http://books.google.com/books?id=7CXUDwAAQBAJ&dq=Voting+Rights+of+17-year-olds&hl=&source=gbs_api


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