Voting Age

LFDA Editor

Allowing 17-year-olds to vote in primaries does not violate the 26th Amendment, which only forbids states from setting a voting age older than 18. 

Some states accordingly allow 17-year-olds to vote in primaries, if they will be 18 by the time of the election.  17-year-olds can vote in primaries and caucuses in almost half of the states, including Maine and Vermont.

Those who support allowing 17-year-olds to vote argue that including them will encourage civic involvement among youth. 

Those who oppose allowing 17-year-olds to vote in primaries often argue that younger voters are less informed at the polls.  In 2011, then-House Speaker Bill O'Brien supported limiting the voting rights of college students for that very reason, arguing, "That's what kids do, they don't have life experience, and they just vote their feelings."

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

Signed by Governor

Allows 17-year olds to register to vote provided they will turn 18 by the time of the general election.

Killed in the House

Constitutional amendment allowing 17 year-olds to vote in primary elections, provided they turn 18 by the time of the general election.

Killed in the House

Constitutional amendment allowing 17 year-olds to vote in primary elections, provided they turn 18 by the time of the general election.

Tabled in the Senate

Allows 17 year-olds to vote in primary elections, provided they turn 18 by the time of the general election.

Should NH allow some 17 year-olds to vote in primary elections?

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Issue Status

In 2016 Gov. Maggie Hassan signed SB 423, which allows 17 year-olds to register to vote provided they will be 18 before the next election.

Rep. Mindi Messmer requested a 2017 constitutional amendment allowing 17-year-olds who will be eligible to vote in the general election to vote in that election's primary, but she withdrew the bill before the legislative session started.

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