March 12, 2016
Ohio judge rules some 17-year-olds can vote in primaries
In what is believed to be a boost to the Sanders campaign, a judge in Ohio has ruled that those 17-year-olds who will turn 18 before the November election can vote in the primaries on Tuesday.
The Sanders campaign had sued the state to grant the right to vote to 17-year-olds.
It's not clear how big the impact of the decision will be, given the short amount of time before the Tuesday primaries.
Sanders's team sued to change the state law, but a judge decided Friday on a different state-level case that effectively provided the same outcome.The Vermont senator's White House campaign has been boosted by strong support from younger voters, so the decision could prove important in the crucial state of Ohio, which has 143 delegates up for grabs.Ohio had barred 17-year-olds from voting on primary day regardless of if they would be eligible for the general election.But the timing of the decision, just days before the Tuesday primary, could dampen any potential gains.Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted bashed the ruling in a statement released after the decision.“This last minute legislating from the bench on election law has to stop. Our system cannot give one county court the power to change 30 years of election law for the entire state of Ohio, 23 days into early voting and only four days before an election," he said."We will appeal this decision because if there is a close election on Tuesday we need clarity from the Supreme Court to make sure that ineligible voters don't determine the outcome of an election."His statement added that 17-year olds are eligible to vote in other local elections.The ruling's implications are more clouded on the Republican side, since no one candidate has laid claim to younger voters.
Should 17-year-olds be allowed to vote at all? Younger voters are less informed than older voters, but when did the level of knowledge about the issues become a factor in whether someone should be allowed to vote? There are seniors who are equally clueless about the issues who cast their ballots anyway. Perhaps a 17-year-old lacks the judgment of his elders, but that seems a subjective reason not to allow young people to vote.
The most recent poll shows Clinton with a 30-point lead on Sanders in Ohio, so a few thousand 17-year-olds voting for Sanders shouldn't be a game-changer for the senator. But given Clinton's 20-point lead in the polls in Michigan before Sanders won that primary earlier this week, anything is possible.