Voting at 16? NJ considers lowering legal age to vote
❎ Should the voting age be lowered to 16 in NJ school elections?
❎ A growing movement would give teens a greater say in education
❎ Supporters say a new generation of voters would be created
At the age of 16, New Jersey teens can drive a car, work and pay taxes. Why shouldn't they be allowed to vote.
A movement is growing in the Garden State that would permit 16-year-olds to vote in local school board elections.
Organizers of the Vote16NJ initiative claim, "Not only will lowering the voting age benefit the civic well-being of the state of New Jersey, but it will tremendously increase the state's crippling voter turnout."
A Change.org petition was first posted in April, 2022. Since, the movement has been slowly growing.
It has the support of Westfield Councilman David Contract, who supports giving kids a greater voice in the governing of the schools they are attending.
Promoting civic duty for a lifetime
New Jersey now requires mandatory civic education beginning in Middle School.
Supporters of Vote16NJ say giving 16-year-olds the right to vote in school elections would be the perfect complement to those classes.
The group also touts data that shows voting in just one election makes a person 25% more likely to vote in the next election.
Essentially, they say, you are creating a whole new generation of voters who are engaged in the process from a very early age.
Legislation would be needed
The road to lowering the voting age has been a long one.
Since launching their petition more than a year ago, the group has been struggling to get recognition.
The issue has drawn the attention of New Jersey Assem. Raj Mukherji, who says he is drafting a bill to lower the voting age.
Under Mukherji's pending legislation, municipalities to lower the voting age.
If passed and signed into law, towns would hold a referendum asking if residents wanted to allow 16-year-olds to vote.
If that was approved, the voting age would be lowered for school elections, including school board, the school budget and other initiatives.
The young voters would not be allowed to vote in general elections.
Rally to be held
The group plans to hold a rally outside City Hall in Jersey City on Friday, Aug. 18, at 5 p.m.
Hundreds are expected to attend, with many of them under the age of 18, to show support for lowering the voting age.
Jersey City school board President Mussab Ali will be there as a supporter.
"Now is the moment," Ali said, "to empower the forgotten stakeholders of education."
For more information about the group, follow this link.
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