A state law that went into effect Jan. 1 allows 17 year olds to vote in the March 18 primary if they turn 18 on or before the November general election. So far the only person to sign up has been a male student from Granite City High School whose birthday fell during the summer. “He was here on Jan. 2 at 8:30 a.m. He was ready!” County Clerk Debbie Ming-Mendoza said Monday at her office at the Administration Building. “He was very excited about the idea of being able to vote in the primary and not having to wait until November. It was a big topic in the social studies and government classes. He said he was going to try to encourage his classmates.” Ming-Mendoza declined to name the student.
The House passed the bill by a 95-22 margin, followed by the Senate. Gov. Pat Quinn signed it on July 3, making Illinois the 20th state to pass such a law.
The measure had been pushed by Andy Conneen, a civics teacher at Adlai Stevenson High School, near Chicago.
“Civics teachers from across the state have been working to make sure all general election voters have a voice in Illinois primaries, even at age 17,” Conneen said in a news release from Quinn’s office. “We’re excited that Gov. Quinn has now made Illinois the largest state to empower all of its newest voters in primary elections to help grow a more active citizenship.”