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Saturday, April 20, 2024 | Back issues
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Illinois Mulls Letting 17-Year-Olds Vote

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A proposed state constitutional amendment would lower the Illinois voting age to 17. Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, proposed the amendment, noting that 17-year-olds can serve in the military, drive cars and hold down jobs. The proposal is one of several measures across the country that would lower the voting age from 18.

Eleven states allow 17-year-olds to vote in a primary election if the voter will turn 18 by the general election. Iowa and Washington are facing measures similar to Illinois, which would lower the age in all elections.

The U.S. Constitution states that all states must allow 18-year-olds to vote, but does not set a minimum voting age.

Younger voters have gotten more attention from the current presidential candidates, especially Barack Obama.

Traditionally, younger voters are least likely to vote, but that is changing. According to the U.S. Census, 41.9 percent of voters ages 18 to 24 voted in the 2004 general election, up from 32.3 percent in 2000.Lang's amendment must be approved by three-fifths vote in each chamber and then approved by a majority of voters in the next general election. If passed, it would not be in time to allow 17-year-olds to vote in this year's general election.

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