General Assembly passes bill allowing 17-year-olds to vote in primaries

This is a file image of sample mail-in ballots. (WLNE)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — A bill passed by the Rhode Island General Assembly will allow some 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Boylan and Sen. Valarie Lawson, allows someone to vote in a primary election as long as they are registered to vote and will be 18 by the time of the general election. The law is expected to impact around 1,200 people a year.

The lawmakers said that the District of Columbia and 19 other states have similar laws, including Maine, Vermont, and Connecticut.

“Many young people in our communities are engaged and paying attention,” Boylan said. “If they’ll be voting in the general election, they should have a say in who appears on the ballot. Participation among our youngest voters has historically been low, and this bill could help encourage them to get engaged and stay engaged in our democracy.”

The president primary date for next year has changed to April 2, 2024 in order to avoid a conflict with the Passover holiday.

Categories: News, Rhode Island