Let Youths Vote at 17? State Considers Lowering Voting Age

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 26, 2008 | Go to article overview

Let Youths Vote at 17? State Considers Lowering Voting Age


Byline: Amber Krosel

akrosel@@dailyherald.com

Voting younger

States that permit 17-year-olds to vote in a primary election if the voter will turn 18 before the general election

Indiana

Iowa

Kentucky

Maine

Maryland

Mississippi

Nebraska

North Carolina

Ohio

Oregon

Virginia

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures (www.ncsl.org)

SPRINGFIELD - Few legal rites of passage exist at age 17.

There's the opportunity to see R-rated movies like "Strange Wilderness" without Mom or Dad. Or buy an M-rated video game like "Halo 3."

With parental permission they can join the military. And a 17- year-old caught breaking the law faces adult penalties and prisons.

Now, some lawmakers are considering opening the door for 17- year-olds to vote.

Already 11 states, including neighboring Indiana and Iowa, let 17-year-olds vote in primary elections if they will turn 18 before the general election.

But if a state constitutional amendment here passes, Illinois would be unique in allowing those age 17 to vote with no strings attached.

"I think we need to include more and more people in the process," said state Rep. Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat and the amendment's sponsor. "I wanted Illinois to break new ground here."

The proposal comes as the youth vote has emerged with newfound political power this campaign season, particularly in the Democratic contest for president.

In the crucial Iowa caucuses earlier this year, Chicago Democrat Barack Obama openly courted high school and college students. They helped deliver a resounding early victory that not only established him as a contender but also now has him leading the delegate count as he and Hillary Clinton vie for the nomination.

Obama isn't the first candidate to court young voters. Four years ago, then-Democratic candidate Howard Dean was supposed to ride an Internet-spread wave of young voter support to the Democratic nomination. But when young voters didn't turn out, Dean's campaign sank.

Historically, that's been the problem - getting young people to actually vote. …

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