Service of Birthdays and the 2016 Ohio Primary

March 14th, 2016

Categories: Uncategorized

birthday cake 18

The Ohio judge’s ruling last week–that teens who turn 18 before the November 2016 presidential election can vote in the March 15 primary–struck a cord because the date of my birth mattered when I was a teen.

I arrived at summer camp to discover I’d been placed in a summer campcabin with kids a year below me in school. Why? My birthday fell a few days after the camp’s arbitrary August 31 deadline for 15/16 year olds. Being with one’s peers is crucial at that age but there was a far more critical situation at play. The kids who were 16 before the cutoff were considered for junior counselor, a much promoted honor. [Some honor: Parents paid the hefty camp fee minus a few dollars and their kids worked like dogs.] I was out of the running and I was crushed. I later learned that my parents put up a fight but a rule was a rule and life’s not fair. I soon adjusted to my cabin mates and had a good time but that was the last year I attended this or any other summer camp.

judges rulingAccording to Ann Sanner in “17-Year-Olds Can Vote in Ohio’s Presidential Primary Tuesday,” her Associated Press article, “The judge’s decision reversed instructions from the swing state’s election chief just days before Tuesday’s primary and amid early voting. Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted initially vowed to appeal the ruling, then opted not to fight it after a state appeals court set a hearing for Monday.”

We read that many kids are no longer chomping at the bit, as in years of yore, to get their driver’s licenses, but some still do. Should the age states permit kids testing for their license slide around according to circumstances—say a family is moving abroad for a parent’s three year assignment–or should the age restriction stay firm? What about drinking laws if grandpa is springing for a giant party for his grandchild’s 21st and the catering hall is only free a week before?

Back to Ohio: If you must be 18 to vote in a primary, should that rule stick? Has the date of your birth impacted your immediate future? Are there other examples where rules have been bent or reinterpreted–or should have been?

primary election

8 Responses to “Service of Birthdays and the 2016 Ohio Primary”

  1. Lucille Said:

    A very timely post as this year the US youth soccer leagues have changed age requirements to join teams. They will now switch all players to a birth year team rather than the August to August calendar year team that have been in place. Mind you the rest of the soccer world except the U.S. has always played birth year. A great idea for some but for others it will leave them scrambling for a place to play and some will now have to take their children to neighboring towns where birth year teams match up with their kids ages.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    It seems as though a compromise in instances such as this–or the one I confronted in summer camp–would be to take into account not the age of a student but the year they are in school. Having age requirements all over the place in different towns is also confusing. Wonder what the impetus was in the first place to change something that seemed to work for a long time.

    The class year would not work for voting, however, as some might not be in school at 18.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    Age cutoffs work either way, with life being unfair for some, too fair for others, and rarely just right for anyone.

    The judges ruling in favor of 17 year olds makes sense, but there is room for dispute. It appears to be based on the spirit of the law, not on the letter of same. Howls of disagreement will undoubtedly be heard, especially if there is evidence of an unexpected swing vote.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Sure leaves open a door for lawsuits if enough almost 18 year olds vote for the winner and the loser is hurt by the outcome. I would imagine that this is just what a judge would want to avoid!

  5. hb Said:

    From the specific, to the general, to the specific and back.

    While I am pro-Sanders and understand the logic behind this ruling, something bothers me about it. It seems a little too cunning. I’d stick to the letter of the law. You’re 17; you can’t vote.

    Given the evident increasing ignorance of our electorate, I’d shrink, rather than expand the pool of those eligible to vote. I also think the decision to lower the voting age from 21 to 17 was a mistake. We need to see more, not less, maturity in both those who vote, but also among the candidates they vote for.

    I was born in February, halfway through the school year, and consequently my parents pushed me ahead of myself by a half year, which was then for different reasons, just about as bad as being pushed behind.

    Indeed, I understand that smart parents today often hold their children back by a year or two to give them the advantage of being more experienced and mature than the peers with whom they are competing in everything from good grades and sports contests to scholarships and good jobs upon graduation.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I don’t know how much B. Sanders has to do with the ruling other than he has caught the imagination of young people. Not sure how many 17 year olds are in college and how many high school students are interested in politics for anyone to make an effort to travel down this sidetrack. True, winning the state is critical to his nomination but employing energy to this ruling….we’ll know tonight if it worked and if it did, we’ll no doubt hear more about this ruling as unfair, illegal etc. by the Clinton team.

    I can understand moving a child ahead if he/she is so bright as to be bored by being left in the class they should be in. I suppose it’s good for a child to always be the biggest, brightest and most agile in a class, that is until the child meets the rest of the population and he/she can’t understand what happened….when tossed in with the rest of us the person might not always come out on top though an attitude of superiority and confidence is certainly a help in actually achieving success.

  7. DManzaluni Said:

    I just saw a ‘classroom’ full of ten year olds from some place in Virginia ALL laughing at the suggestion that Trump is a serious candidate.

    They were asking why a lying demagogue (my words, echoing their sentiments) could fool anyone into believing in him

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Out of the mouths of babes. Maybe 5th graders should be allowed to vote in primaries. From what I’ve seen, they’d be far more grounded and realistic than millions of grownups in this primary/caucus season.

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