Young voters in Ohio were handed a victory on Friday—one that also bodes well for Bernie Sanders—when a state court judge ruled that 17-year-olds who will be eligible to vote in November's general election have the right to vote in this Tuesday's primaries.
"The idea that in the year 2016, 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." —Bernie SandersIn reaction to a suit filed by the Sanders' campaign against Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Frye ruled that those who will turn 18 by November 8, 2016 should, indeed, be allowed to vote in the primary. Frye's ruling stipulated that those voters could not, however, vote on any ballot issues or in contests that would actually elect someone to office.
Brad Deutsch, the attorney representing the Sanders campaign in the case immediately praised the ruling. "This is a huge victory for 17-year-olds across Ohio," said Deutsch in a statement. "Their votes for presidential nominees will now count when they vote on either Tuesday or over the weekend in early voting."
Deutsch also pointed out how Judeg Frye "admonished the Secretary of State for abusing his discretion" on the issue and also directed Husted to be sure that poll workers in the state not only allow 17-year-olds to vote, but also instructed them to make a "reasonable effort" to determine and record choices that have already been made by any 17-year-old who may have voted early.
With Sanders consistently winning the youth vote over his rival Hillary Clinton by large margins in polling and previous state contests, the win is seen as significant both in technical terms and symbolically.
For his part, Husted contested the ruling and said his office would appeal.
"This last-minute legislating from the bench on election law has to stop," Husted told the Associated Press. "Our system cannot give one county court the power to change 30 years of election law for the entire state of Ohio, 23 days into early voting and only four days before an election."
Michael Brigss, Sanders' spokesperson told the New York Times he expected the appeal to be filed this weekend resulting in a federal court date Monday. He expressed confidence the ruling would be upheld.
In comments to the press, Sanders himself welcomed the ruling and called it concerning that a Husted would be going out of his way to strip young people eager to participate in this year's election from their right to do so.
"It is an outrage that the secretary of state in Ohio is going out of his way to keep young people — significantly African-American young people, Latino young people — from participating." Sanders said.
"The idea that in the year 2016, 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," he continued. "Our jobs is to get more people involved in the process, not fewer people, and I am glad that decision was won and I am confident that it will be sustained."