Ohio court rules that 17 year-olds who will be 18 by Election Day can vote in next week’s primary

An Ohio judge ruled earlier today that 17 year-olds who will turn 18 before this year’s general election are allowed to vote in next week’s presidential primary. The ruling reversed a decision made by Ohio secretary of state John Husted, who had held that this subset of the electorate was allowed to vote in state and local primaries, but not the presidential primary — basically because he said so.

His argument was highly technical, to say the least.

Husted had argued that because voters don’t “nominate” presidential candidates, but instead directly elect delegates to nominating conventions, these contests are different from traditional nominating procedures, and are therefore interpreted differently under Ohio law. Using this distinction, Husted argued that the law allowed 17 year-olds to “nominate” state and local candidates, but they were not allowed to “elect” delegates to presidential nominating conventions. This argument was news to voters in Ohio, which has allowed 17 year-olds who will be 18 by Election Day to vote in presidential primaries since 1981. As the Columbus Dispatch last week, Ohio law is perfectly clear that 17 year-olds are allowed to vote in this situation, and the relevant section “makes no exception for presidential primaries.”

Vote via Shutterstock

Vote via Shutterstock

Husted’s argument also inverts the concept of direct elections, using the same logic as I would be using if I said that we don’t actually “elect” a president, but instead we “elect” electors to the Electoral College who elect the president for us. Not only does that describe an indirect process, but it’s also pedantic to the point of absurdity. It certainly couldn’t be used as an argument on which to base decisions about who gets to participate in the general election.

The lawsuit was brought in a common pleas court by nine 17 year-olds who will be old enough to vote in the presidential election this November, in conjunction with a voting rights advocacy organization. Bernie Sanders’s campaign had filed a separate lawsuit in federal court, which seems to have been rolled into this one. Secretary Husted’s office has not yet said whether it will appeal this decision.

You can read the ruling here:

[iframe src=”https://mgtvwcmh.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/judge-fryes-final-opinion.pdf”]


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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  • Gwendolynaellis


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  • marknc

    Take that bet in Vegas and you’ll be rich in minutes. They can’t win an honest election so they cheat at every opportunity.

    Also too: morals and values (of a pig)

  • Buford

    I’ll state the obvious… if voting laws are suddenly changed, and if those changes restrict access to voting rather than expand it, it’s a certain bet that a Republican initiated the change.

  • Bill_Perdue

    “A new scientific study from Princeton researcher Martin Gilens and Northwestern researcher Benjamin I. Page has finally put some science behind the recently popular argument that the United States isn’t a democracy any more. And they’ve found that in fact, America is basically an oligarchy.

    Comparing the preferences of the average American at the 50th percentile of income to what those Americans at the 90th percentile preferred, as well as the opinions of major lobbying or business groups, the researchers found out that the government followed the directives set forth by the latter two much more often. It’s beyond alarming.

    As Gilens and Page write, ‘the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.’ In other words, their statistics say your opinion literally does not matter.” http://mic.com/articles/87719/princeton-concludes-what-kind-of-government-america-really-has-and-it-s-not-a-democracy

    ”The government we have is not a democracy. It’s nowhere close. Instead, a corruption in the very idea of a representative democracy has rendered our nation almost ungovernable. We have entered the age of the “vetocracy,” as political theorist Francis Fukuyama puts it, where very small numbers in America can block almost any sensible change. – Gridlock happens not because Americans want it. Gridlock happens because it pays — for that tiny minority.http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/lawrence-lessig-america-not-democracy-article-1.2374820

    It hardly matters at all. and the almost 50-60 of voters who refuse to participate in theses farces know that. From NBC News “…the biggest finding in our new NBC/WSJ poll is how the American electorate — at large — doesn’t care for the 2016 field. Every major candidate in the poll, including non-candidate Joe Biden (at least for now), gets a majority of voters saying they are uncertain/pessimistic about their ability to do a good job as president vs. optimistic/satisfied. According to our pollsters, there is no precedent for that level of negativity for the entire field in the history of the NBC/WSJ poll on this question.” http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/first-read-we-dont-our-candidates-very-much-n448411c

  • Republicans sure do hate America’s democratic system of government, don’t they? It’s no wonder their most popular front-runner for President is the openly fascist autocrat.

  • douglas01

    Another rightwing asshole gets slapped down. Thank you.

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