Ohio Elections Official: 17-Year-Olds Were Permitted To Vote In Presidential Primaries Under Brunner

COLUMBUS — Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is claiming his directive that prohibits Ohio voters who will turn 18 before the general election from casting a ballot for their presidential choice in the primary was the policy under former Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, but officials that worked for Brunner are disputing that assertion.

“Secretary Husted is flat out wrong,” said Antoinette Wilson, the Assistant Secretary of State under Secretary Brunner. “During the 2008 presidential election, Secretary Brunner issued a clear directive allowing 17-year-olds the right to vote for their preferred candidate in the presidential primary. She firmly believed we should be doing everything possible to bring young people into the democratic process, not shutting them out.”

Christopher Anderson worked with local Democrats and Republicans in the Mahoning Valley to pre-register 17-year-olds to vote in the 2016 elections.

“I was proud to work on a bipartisan effort to register more than 100 high school students, and hearing this news is incredibly frustrating,” said Anderson. “These students were very excited to vote in the primary election and have their voices heard. Secretary Husted’s decision sends a very clear message to these young voters — your voices don’t count.”

In February 2008, Brunner’s office issued a directive on 17-year-olds voting in that year’s presidential primary, stating:

“Ohio law allows 17-year old electors who will be 18 years of age on or before the date of the general election in 2008 to vote solely on the nomination of candidates. This is because they will be eligible to vote for the nominees for this office at the November general election.”

In contrast, Husted buried his change to this policy on on page 314 of a 596-page manual for election officials.

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“Secretary Husted is once again restricting voting rights and making it harder for Ohioans to vote,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper. “Ohio Democrats are working to ensure that every eligible voter is registered, every registered voter is able to vote and that every vote is accurately counted. It has been a central value of the Democratic Party that we support greater voter participation — regardless of party. We’ve never solved a problem with less democracy.”

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