Remember what you’ve got

This story from Maryland caught my eye, because it relates to something I’ve been pointing out to young people (read: high schoolers) for a while. From WTOP:

Carl Snyder, like many young people, registered to vote when he got his first driver’s license.

With an October birthday, the Tuscarora High School student planned to vote shortly after he turned 18 in the November 2008 presidential election.

As has been the history in Maryland, he expected he would also vote in the February primary, since he would turn 18 before the general election.

All that changed in 2007 when his father, Cliff Snyder, read a Washington Post article about a “quiet loss of voting rights.”

His first thought was what kind of voting rights were being lost?

Cliff Snyder read that the Maryland State Board of Elections, acting on the advice of the attorney general, had reversed the long-standing position that 17-year-olds who would be 18 by the general election were eligible to vote in the primary as well.

Although Cliff is a Republican and Carl wanted to vote for Obama in the Democratic primary, the Army microbiologist and trained lawyer went to court on his son’s behalf. He recalled how he had voted in the 1973 primary despite not turning 18 until the period in between the primary and general himself.

I myself participated in the 2004 nominating process and was a delegate to the 2004 State Convention. I turned 18 right before the Convention, but I also attended the District Convention (where I actually served on the Nominations committee) that May before my birthday. I recognized my right to participate in the nominating process since I was a fully registered voter. Virginians are allowed to register to vote and have all the rights of registered voters as long as they’re 18 before the next general election.

I think this only makes sense–individuals who are going to vote in the general have every right to select the nominees that will represent their party in that election. To do otherwise is to have an arbitrary rule needless discourage full participation in the democratic process.

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