Seventeen-year-olds vote in Ohio’s primaries


Sydney Kinzy

Only voters above the age of 18 were allowed to vote at polls in Missouri.

Seventeen-year-olds on the brink of being 18 have begun fighting for their right to vote. It started as a movement by nine 17-year olds in Ohio who sued Jon Husted, the Ohio Secretary of State who had prevented underage people from voting in the primaries.

“I’m three weeks too young to vote in the primary,” senior Sarah Burnham said, who turns 18 in April. “I find this frustrating because the primary helps to ensure that the person you want for your party gets the nomination, and I really hate that, just because I am a few weeks short of 18, I have to let other Missourians make the decision while I sit on the sidelines until November.”

On March 11, judge Richard Frye ruled in favor of giving 17-year-olds the vote in Ohio.

“The Secretary has a clear legal duty to…to permit 17-year olds’ choices for presidential convention delegates to be counted in the same fashion as voters age 18 and older,” Frye said in his ruling.  

In 21 states, 17-year-olds can vote in primaries and caucuses. However, Missouri is not among those 21. Senior Molly Sewester, who recently turned 18, also agrees that 17-year-olds should be able to vote in primaries.

“If you are in the same school year as those who turned 18 for the primaries and are 17, I feel as though you would be smart enough to make an educated decision in who would be best to lead our nation,” Sewester said.

However, not all believe voting should be exclusively for people 18 and up. In a survey of seniors, 37.5 percent believe 17-year-olds should not vote in primaries.

“Because the law says that you must be 18 to vote, I think they should be able to vote for the general but not the primary if they aren’t of age,” senior Claire Dreller said.

Senior Emily Wind sees 18 as the norm for the voting age and agrees that underage voters should not vote in primaries.

“Eighteen years is the rule, and it always has been. It’s all about the tradition,” Wind said. “Besides, it gives you more time to decide on a candidate.”

On March 15, over 1.5 million people voted in Missouri, each one of them over 18, concluding yet another primary election year that has come and gone in Missouri without a single 17-year-old vote. The long wait until November’s general elections has begun.