COLUMBUS, Ohio – A group of 17-year-olds are suing the Ohio secretary of state to be allowed to vote in the presidential primary next Tuesday.
That follows Tuesday's announcement by Jon Husted that 17-year-olds would be barred. It comes down to a technicality:
Teens who would be 18 by Election Day have been allowed to vote in nominating races for other offices – for city and state races up to congressional races – under the idea that they ought to be able to choose who will be on the ballot when they get to vote. But Husted, a Republican, says voters in a presidential primary are not voting directly for the candidate, they are voting for a delegate who represents the candidate.
Husted released this statement Tuesday:
“I welcome this lawsuit and I am very happy to be sued on this issue because the law is crystal clear.
“We are following the same rules Ohio has operated under in past primaries, under both Democrat and Republican administrations. There is nothing new here. If you are going to be 18 by the November election, you can vote, just not on every issue.
“That means 17-year-olds can vote in the primary, but only on the nomination of candidates to the General Election ballot. They are not permitted to elect candidates, which is what voters are doing in a primary when they elect delegates to represent them at their political party’s national convention, or vote on issues like school, police and fire levies.
More than 173,000 Ohioans have cast their ballots, Husted said.
More than 328,000 absentee ballots were requested by mail from across the state.