I am trying to determine if it is legal to vote in the New Jersey state presidential primary if you're 17 years old, but turning 18 by November election day.

I honestly thought that it was a nationwide law that 17-year-olds could vote in their primaries as long as they turn 18 by November election day.

Acording to


To register in New Jersey you must be: At least 18 years old by the next election

After speaking on the phone with the superintendent of elections in Burlington County NJ, she says that "election" means "whatever it is that you are voting for", meaning you must be 18 on the day you cast your ballot in the primary itself. She could not give me a source to confirm her interpretation.

We also found this:


Each person, who at the time he or she applies for registration resides in the district in which he or she expects to vote, who will be of the age of 18 years or more at the next ensuing election, who is a citizen of the United States, and who, if he or she continues to reside in the district until the next election, will at the time have fulfilled all the requirements as to length of residence to qualify him or her as a legal voter, shall, unless otherwise disqualified, be entitled to be registered in such district.

Is the primary legally "an election"? Thank you for any help and guidance.

1 Answer 1


According to Wikipedia, nineteen US states allow those who will be 18 by the time of the general election to vote in the related primary or participate in the related caucuses. New Jersey is not among them.

States include: Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_age

The article also notes that

The 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prevents states from "denying" suffrage to 18-year-olds, but does not prevent states from establishing a lower voting age.

That is, federal law establishes 18 as the age by which citizens must be allowed to vote in federal elections. States may, but are not required to, allow younger people to vote.

  • 1
    Technically this is a "maximum minimum voting age"; there is no maximum voting age.
    – Dale M
    Feb 5, 2016 at 1:55
  • 2
    @DaleM yes thanks, I was trying to avoid that phrase. I've made another attempt.
    – phoog
    Feb 5, 2016 at 5:36

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