Gov. Phil Murphy (D) came out in support of a proposal that would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in board of education races during his State of the State Address yesterday.
“This is a proposal inspired by two, bright young leaders here today: Anjali Krishnamurti and Yenjay Hu — the co-founders of VOTE16NJ. And I want to thank Senator Brian Stack for his leadership on this issue as well,” Murphy said during his speech.
“I know, to some, this proposal may sound unconventional. But voting is a lifelong habit. And studies show that, if a person votes in one election — they are more likely to turn out in the next election. So, encouraging our young neighbors to engage with democracy, is really about encouraging them to become lifelong voters.”
The local effort began at a rally at Jersey City City Hall in August, with the Hudson County Board of Commissioners and Jersey City Board of Education passing resolutions in favor before Stack put up a bill.
“Allowing 16-year-olds to vote in local elections is the next big thing in our democracy. We are fortunate to have champions like Gov. Murphy and State Senator Brian Stack, as well as the City of Newark, among our allies in New Jersey,” Vote16USA Director Mussab Ali, a former Jersey City Board of Education president, said in a statement.
Since its inception in 2015, Vote16USA has been at the forefront of advocating for the enfranchisement of 16 and 17-year-olds in local elections across the country.
In Maryland, seven cities already allow 16- and 17-year-olds to participate in local elections, and 11 countries around the world have successfully implemented a 16-year-old voting age for national or local elections.