Seventeen-year-olds who turn 18 before the November 2014 general election will be able to vote in the March primary, under an Illinois law enacted Wednesday. Gov. Pat Quinn signed the law, dubbed “Suffrage at 17” by its champions, at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire. Government teacher Andrew Conneen and many of his students have lobbied for the proposal for years. Conneen, students and others looked on as Quinn signed the law on the running track outside the school. Behind him, the scoreboard clock read 2:26, the official number of the House bill.
Quinn talked about being seated next to Conneen on a flight to Denver for the 2008 Democratic Party convention. He was lieutenant governor at the time.
During the flight, Conneen talked about giving some 17-year-olds voting rights. The goal, Conneen explained, is to allow teens who are old enough to vote in a general election to choose who should be on that ballot through the earlier, partisan primary contests. Quinn liked the idea.
… The proposal had bipartisan support in Springfield. But some Republicans were hesitant to give younger people more voting rights for fear they’d lean Democratic, Sullivan said.
… The law only applies to general elections with primaries. Seventeen-year-olds will not be able to vote in local elections, such as school or village board races. Lawmakers may try to change that down the road, Sente said.