Primary Voting at Age 17 Act

Summary: The Primary Voting at Age 17 Act allows 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections if they will be 18 by the date of the general election.

Based upon New Mexico HB 157 (2013) and materials from FairVote


This Act shall be called the “Primary Voting at Age 17 Act.”


(A) FINDINGSThe legislature finds that:

  1. Young people usually vote at the lowest rates. Expanding voting rights will help engage young people in the political process, which strengthens our democracy.
  2. The primary election is not separate from the general election, they are part of one process. It makes little sense to deny the primary vote to young people who will vote in the general.
  3. The 26th Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees 18-year-olds the right to vote, but nothing in that Amendment prevents 17-year-olds from voting in the primary.
  4. 17-year-olds are already permitted to vote in primaries and caucuses in many states, including: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia. The state of [STATE] should permit it as well.

(B) PURPOSE—This law is enacted to encourage greater citizen participation in voting.


After section XXX, the following new section XXX shall be inserted:

(A) 17-YEAR-OLD VOTING IN PRIMARY ELECTIONS—If a person who is seventeen years old will be a qualified elector on the day of the general election and registers to vote in accordance with the provisions of [CITE SECTION], for the purposes of the primary election that person shall be considered to be a voter and may vote in the primary election immediately preceding that general election.

(B) 17-YEAR OLD VOTING IN PARTY CAUCUSES—If a major political party chooses not to participate in the primary election process, it shall allow anyone who would otherwise be qualified to vote in that party’s primary to participate in the party’s selection procedure.


This law shall become effective on July 1, 20XX.