A proposal that Utah lawmakers will consider later this month could see the state join 20 others to allow 17-year-olds to vote in June primary elections if they’ll turn 18 by the general election in November. Salt Lake City Democratic state Rep. Joel Briscoe, a former high school civics teacher, said he hopes his proposal will help boost voter participation and get more young people engaged. Briscoe said if someone will be 18 and eligible to vote in November, “Why not get them involved in the primary election? Why not get them involved even earlier that year and get them more pumped for what’s going to happen in November?”
Briscoe said research has shown that the earlier people cast their first vote, the more likely they will be to continue voting. The Utah lieutenant governor’s office, which oversees elections, has not studied the proposal, according to state elections director Mark Thomas.
So far, 20 states allow 17-year-olds to vote in primaries and caucuses, according to FairVote, a Maryland-based election reform group that advocates for the idea.
Some states have passed laws lowering the primary voting age and in others, state political parties have been allowed to change their party rules to allow 17-year-old participation.