17 Year Old Primary Vote

Jessie Melton, Staff Writer

Utah State Representative(D) Joel Briscoe has proposed a new piece of legislation that would make it possible for  17-year-olds who will be 18 in time for the November General Election would be allowed to vote in the June primaries. Right now, 20 other states already have adopted this procedure and all report to have increased voting numbers and more continued participation in following elections. Some argue that high school students are not involved enough in politics to make an educated opinion. That’s not even close to correct. Plenty of high schoolers are plenty interested in politics. Yes, there are the few who are not, but you find those types of adults too. Those voting are going to be proactive enough to be updated on the election and what is going on around them. They are going to have their own unique opinions and want to have a voice. Many Juniors in highschool who would be affected by this decision are taking a U.S government classes and may understand more about how the government works than some adults. Other states who practice this not only increased voter turnout, but also the number of voters returning to the booths in the next years. It’s a way to get students excited and involved in politics early on, which studies show tends to create a lifelong habit of voting.

Others are worried to make an exception. North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaege stated, “If you start making exceptions, where are we going to draw the line?” This is valid, but I don’t believe that this is an exception. It’s logical to allow people who will vote in the general election to be involved throughout the whole process of the election. Seventeen-year-olds are completely capable of making an educated decision. Students who care enough to vote care enough to understand what is going on in the election. This is a matter of allowing those who want a voice to get their voice a few months earlier than they would have. This is getting kids excited to vote and having them involved in the whole election process.

Students are more involved than adults and the government choose to think, We have just never gotten a chance to prove that. I myself am very involved and feel like I barred from having a voice in my community. I can participate in school government, school newspaper, and even attend political party meetings, but beyond that there is not much I can do. Like an adult, I can contact representatives by phone call or email, but I often do not feel like the voice of a 17 year old is represented. The ability to vote in the primaries would increase the representation of minors. I think especially now it is important that the next generation of voters has their voice heard in this election. If I wish to vote i’m going to have to pick a candidate in November, I would like to have a say in who my options are going to be.