In most Midwestern states, many 17-year-olds have right to vote

For the first time in Illinois, most of the state’s 17-year-olds had the chance to cast ballots in this year’s primary elections. Their participation was the result of a bill passed by the General Assembly in 2013. HB 226 opened up voting to 17-year-olds who will turn 18 before the general election. According to the Chicago Tribune, the measure received widespread bipartisan support, with proponents saying it would encourage young people to get involved in the political process.

Since 1971, the U.S. Constitution has required that anyone 18 or older be able to vote in local, state and federal elections. (Previously, the minimum voting age was 21.) Electoral participation by those younger than 18 is left to the states.

According to the Center for Voting and Democracy, 17-year-olds can vote in primaries and caucuses in half of the U.S. states, including eight in the Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and Ohio. Their participation is either the result of state law or party rules. In Kansas and North Dakota, the center reports, 17-year-olds may take part in the Democratic caucuses, but are barred from participating in the Republican caucus.

Stateline Midwest ~ April 20142.17 MB