Sanders’ campaign challenges Ohio’s voter eligibility law

Last week, Bernie Sanders and the Fair Elections Network filed separate lawsuits challenging Ohio Secretary of State John Husted’s interpretation of voting laws which effectively disallow 17-year-old voter from participating in the state’s presidential primaries on March 15.

More than 20 states allow individuals who will be 18 by the date of the general election to vote in their primaries, including Ohio. Husted released a voter instruction manual to the public in December 2015, however, which indicated that those who will only be 18 by the November 8 election can vote in the state’s primary, just not for president.

In the Fair Elections Network case, a county judge ruled Friday that Ohio’s Secretary was wrong to tell those eligible 17-year old individuals they could not participate in a presidential primary, and ordered the state’s election boards to count their votes.

Husted said the ruling amounted to “last-minute legislating from the bench”, arguing that precedent had been set in Ohio to exclude 17-year-olds from voting in presidential contests, despite enactment of the provision in 1981.

The Sander’s lawsuit, yet to be ruled on by the U.S. District Court on Columbus, claims that Husted is discriminating against young voters in violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

Secretary Husted said that the state of Ohio will not appeal Friday’s ruling before its primary on Tuesday.


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