Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

In Ohio, 17-Year-Olds Can Vote Now. Will This Help Sanders?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

In Ohio, 17-Year-Olds Can Vote Now. Will This Help Sanders?

Article excerpt

A court has cleared the way for 17-year-olds to vote in the Ohio presidential primary, although unless the race is very close, their impact on a volatile primary election may be negligible.

A judge ruled that Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) had incorrectly interpreted a law when he barred 17-year-olds who turn 18 before the General Election from the state primary, the Associated Press reported. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who had also filed a lawsuit on the subject, praised the move as "a huge victory for 17-year-olds across Ohio."

Mr. Husted decried the decision as "last-minute legislating from the bench on election law" but decided not to appeal because of time constraints.

Laws in 17 states allow 17-year-olds to vote before their 18th birthday, according to USA.gov. Since 1981, this list has included Ohio, which is why the judge ruled in favor of the 17-year-old plaintiffs.

"I think it's my right to be able to vote," plaintiff Brian Bush told the AP. "Obviously, local and state elections are just as important. But for something as big as the president, I feel like I should be able to voice my opinion in it."

Certain political parties also allow 17-year-olds to vote in a primary in an additional six states, according to FairVote, a left- leaning voting rights advocacy group based in Maryland. The group has noted that "Ohio law seems to clearly allow 17-year-olds to vote in any primary election," and has advocated that all states empower 17-year-olds whose birthdays fall between the primary and general election to vote.

On a practical level, the 17-year-olds of Ohio may not impact Mr. Sanders' campaign, even if the 16,000 who registered vote for him on March 15. Ohio's voting-age population is 8,955,859, and 55 percent are over age 45, according to the US Census. …

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