House OKs lower voting age for primary elections

House OKs lower voting age for primary elections

SPRINGFIELD — A bill approved Wednesday in the Illinois House would extend voting rights to 17-year-olds — but only for primary elections and only if they would turn 18 before the date of the November general election.

The House approved the measure (HB 226) by a margin of 95-22. Among area lawmakers, Reps. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana; Adam Brown, R-Champaign; Bill Mitchell, R-Decatur; and Brad Halbrooke, R-Shelbyville, voted yes.

Reps. Chad Hays, R-Catlin, and Josh Harms, R-Watseka, voted no.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Carol Sente, D-Vernon Hills, who said she was approached with the idea by a civics class at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire.

Nineteen other states also allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections, she said.

One opponent of the bill, Rep. Dennis Reboletti, R-Elmhurst, noted that a day before the House voted for legislation that would keep most 17-year-olds out of adult court and in juvenile court. Supporters of that bill said that the minds of most 17-year-olds are not fully formed.

"We have to decide where these 17-year-olds are actually at," he said. "How can we treat them as juveniles on one hand and then call them adults on the other?"

The legislation now moves to the Senate.

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