It's no secret Bernie Sanders is popular with younger voters—millennial women have taken to Tinder to support him in his bid for the Democratic nomination, he started a viral challenge, and his surprise victory in Michigan was largely thanks to younger voters. So it wasn't entirely surprising that the Sanders campaign was upset when Ohio Secretary of State, Jon Husted, announced 17-year-olds wouldn't be allowed to vote in the Ohio primary on March 15.
The Sanders campaign promptly sued Husted saying Husted’s directive "would 'arbitrarily discriminate' against young voters, who U.S. census data show are more heavily African American and Latino than older groups of voters." And on Friday an Ohio judge ruled that teenagers who will turn 18 before the November general election have a right to vote in the primary.
Although many states do grant 17-year-olds the right to vote in primaries, Husted interpreted an Ohio law to mean they could vote in nominating contests, but not in elections. Because the point of a presidential primary is to elect delegates to party conventions, teen voters were barred. (They could, however, vote in other local elections.) According to Husted (a Republican) the law had always been interpreted this way, but the Sanders campaign pointed to a pamphlet released in 2009 by former Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (a Democrat) encouraging 17-year-olds to vote in the primary and claimed Husted's policy was both new and arbitrary.
Husted, of course, is not happy. "This last minute legislating from the bench on election law has to stop," he said in a statement. "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. We will appeal this decision 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."