Ohio judge allows some 17-year-olds to vote in primary News
Ohio judge allows some 17-year-olds to vote in primary

A judge for Ohio’s Franklin County Court of Common Pleas [official website] on Friday granted an emergency order [text, PDF] allowing 17-year-olds who will turn 18 by the November election to vote in the Ohio primary next week. The case arose after Secretary of State Jon Husted [official website] released a voting manual [text, PDF] in December stating that 17-year-olds could no longer vote in the presidential primary elections as they have since 1981 due an interpretation of the words “elections” and “nominations.” The changes prompted nine teens, along with presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, to file a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] to request an emergency order to block the implementation of the new interpretations. Judge Richard Frye found:

The Ohio General Assembly acted within its Constitutional authority under Article V, § 7 to “provide by law” for choosing delegates to the national presidential nominating conventions. Such “law” includes R.C. § 3503.011 [text] allowing 17-year olds who will be eighteen by the next general election and who wish to affiliate with a specific political party to “vote such ballot at the primary election.” Plaintiffs are entitled to a Judgment that the Secretary abused his discretion when he revised the Manual and instructed the 88 county Boards of Election otherwise.

Husted stated that he will not appeal the decision [press release] since the case would not be resolved by Tuesday’s primary.

Voting rights have been a contentious issue in the US recently. The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] agreed [order, PDF] last week to reconsider [JURIST report] Texas’ voter identification law before the entire court. Last May the New Hampshire Supreme Court struck down [JURIST report] a 2012 law requiring voters to be state residents, not just domiciled in the state. Last March Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a new law [JURIST report] that made Oregon the first state in the nation to institute automatic voter registration. In November 2014 a federal appeals court rejected [JURIST report] a Kansas rule that required prospective voters to show proof-of-citizenship documents before registering using a federal voter registration form.