Posted by Michelle C. Whittaker on March 11, 2016
Fair Elections Legal Network announced today that Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Richard Frye ruled in favor of 17-year-old presidential primary voters. Ohio law allows for 17-year-old voting in presidential primaries. The Court ordered Secretary of State Jon Husted to advise county election boards to count the ballots already received and allow young voters to participate in voting now through Election Day on March 15.
FairVote's legal team noted that an intepretation of law was at issue:
"Presidential primaries technically elect delegates on behalf of candidates, who will then go on to vote for their assigned candidates at the party conventions this summer. Due to this technicality, the Secretary of State’s office says that 17-year-olds are forbidden from voting in the presidential primary. No other state with 17-year-old primary voting appears to follow this interpretation of law."
Studies have shown that 17-year-old voters have a higher turnout than 18-year-old voters. Also, allowing for civic participation at a young age can foster a lifetime of engagement.