Life just got a little harder for politically-minded seventeen-year-olds in Ohio. While, in the past, they have been able to vote in the primary election, provided they will turn eighteen before election the following November, things are going to be different this year. Secretary of State Jon Husted has specified that, this year, seventeen-year-old voters are not able to vote in the primaries, reports The Columbus Dispatch.
Husted clarified in the 2015 election manual that the difference is between “electing” and “nominating.” In the presidential primary, voters do not nominate candidates, which seventeen-year-old voters are allowed to do. Instead, voters elect delegates to do the nominating for them, and seventeen-year-olds are not allowed to elect. It’s a frustrating distinction, especially for the young voters who want to have a say in who will potentially be the leader of the country.
In a statement, State Rep. Kathleen Clyde openly opposed Husted’s policy, saying that seventeen-year-olds have had the vote since 1981. Specifically, she said:
‘I was astonished to learn that 17-year-old Ohioans who will legally become adults before the November election are now being prohibited from having a say in the direction of their country at the presidential ballot box during the primary.’
Josh Eck, Husted’s spokesman, has called Clyde’s claim a “piece of fiction.” He also argued, “This statute and its interpretation have been used for years.”
The youth vote has been an important component of past elections and is, naturally, important in this one as well. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, especially, has relied heavily on the support of young people, and he has a significant advantage over his opponent Hillary Clinton when it comes to appealing to young voters. In an interview with Politico, Sanders’ senior adviser Tad Devine said, “We’re not shooting in the dark here. We’ve got really good ideas of who we should be going after.” His success in Ohio, as well as other states in which seventeen-year-olds are not allowed to vote, is likely to suffer with the implementation of this policy.
In the video below, courtesy of The Young Turks via YouTube, The Young Turks discuss the importance of young people getting out and voting.