17-year-olds could get primary voting rights soon

Updated 5/15/2013 7:30 PM

SPRINGFIELD -- If Gov. Pat Quinn approves, 17-year-olds will be allowed to vote in the 2014 Illinois primary election if they are set to turn 18 before Election Day in November.

Quinn spokesman Dave Blanchette said the governor supports the plan.


The Illinois Senate approved the proposal Wednesday by a 43-9 vote to send it to Quinn. The idea comes from Adlai E. Stevenson High School government teacher Andrew Conneen.

More than a dozen other states already allow the practice.

Supporters say getting voters started early could help create a lifelong habit of heading to the polls.

"These individuals are well-informed about what's going on," said state Sen. Terry Link, a Waukegan Democrat and the legislation's sponsor.

Concerns were raised about cases where one party has a contested primary race but the other party doesn't slate a candidate. In those races, primaries effectively pick who wins the election.

"I don't think we ought to make a distinction between the primary and the general," said state Sen. Dale Righter, a Charleston Republican.

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