Bernie Sanders Celebrates Ohio Allowing 17 Year Olds To Vote In Upcoming Election

Columbus, Ohio (PT) – If there’s one thing Bernie Sanders’ campaign has done, it’s galvanize the political interest and participation of the youth. Although the underestimated demographic doesn’t make up the entirety of Sanders’ support base, he certainly would be worse off without them. That’s what makes recent Ohio reforms, granting 17 year olds the right to vote, such a timely and momentous victory.

A group of Ohio 17 year olds achieved the unlikely after convincing a judge to count their votes in the coming election. The victory comes alongside a lawsuit filed by Bernie Sanders against Ohio’s top election official– Secretary of State Jon A. Husted. Sanders claimed Husted “arbitrarily” discriminated against young black and Latino voters by not allowing 17 year olds, who’d turn 18 come November’s election, to vote for a nominee. Despite Ohio’s recent decision, the Sanders lawsuit is still bumping around the supreme court’s halls.

This kick-started a localized youth movement in which nine teen activists convinced a judge to side with Sanders. Husted, New York Times reports, has vowed to appeal what Bernie calls a “huge victory for 17 year olds across Ohio.” “Their votes for presidential nominees,” Sanders continued, “will now count when they vote on either Tuesday or over the weekend in early voting.”

According to Sanders, the judge overseeing the case “admonished the secretary of state for abusing his discretion by prohibiting 17 year olds from voting for presidential candidates.” Husted, New York Times reports, will be expected to not only “instruct poll workers to allow 17 year olds to vote,” but also instruct “them to make a reasonable effort to attempt to determine and record choices that have already been made by any 17 year old who already voted”, Bernie relays.

Husted has been livid over, “this last-minute legislating from the bench on election law.” “We will appeal this decision,” the secretary declares, “because if there is a close election on Tuesday we need clarity from the supreme court to make sure that ineligible voters don’t determine the outcome of an election.” The reference to a “close election”– involving Sanders– should hint to Husted’s motivations for contesting these reforms so zealously.

What fuels Husted’s position is as murky as the sources of his campaign funding, the Columbus Dispatch explains. According to the outlet, shady fortunes are already nourishing Husted’s 2018 campaign three years before it’s launch! A significant portion of funding comes through the State Government Leadership Foundation (STF), which supports republican campaigns.

Recently, the organization began running ads worth “five-figures” praising Husted’s apparent support for “free enterprise.” The foundation’s policy of allowing limitless financial contributions, while withholding donor identities, creates a steady flow of so-called “dark money” into campaigns like Husted’s. This lower than low key PayPal system also doesn’t disclose how undisclosed sums of money from undisclosed sources are used. Despite this black hole, according to Columbus Dispatch, media has reported Time Warner and Exxon campaign contributions facilitated through STF.

Image Source: Pixabay.com
Image Source: Pixabay.com

According to the New York Times, at least 20 states allow 17 year olds to vote in primaries or caucuses if they will be 18 by election day. Ohio’s reforms are not unusual and, in fact, work only to include as many people in a democratic political process as possible. “The idea that in the year 2016,” says Sanders, “we have republican secretaries of state trying to suppress the vote, trying to make it difficult for young people to participate in the political process, is an outrage.” “These students are looking forward to voting in the presidential primary,” says case attorney Rachel Bloomkatz, “and to having their votes counted.” Bloomkatz outed her stance that 17 year olds, “should be able to exercise this right. We seek to protect it.”

We live in a country where youth values are discredited and their power to do anything about it is stripped. How empowering would it be to have young people interested in world affairs and motivated to do their part to help as early as possible? Other than to protect a political status quo, no excuse exists for apparent “freedom” advocates disenfranchising voters in this way, or any for that matter.

Perhaps young people, particularly high schoolers, would be more passionate about the state of our country if we actually showed that we valued their ideas. Instead, we bring school resource officers into classrooms to tell kids that they don’t have rights, and we allow politicians to suppress their say in the way things go. Ohio’s measures may prove as progressive as marijuana reform in Colorado, and will spice up this election cycle even more. Want to teach young people an important and enduring American value? Then let them do the American thing and vote.