New Young Voters in RI County

February  25, 2014

      More than 100 young people will be able to vote next month for the first time. Thanks to a new Illinois law that allows 17 year olds to vote in a primary if they'll turn 18 by the fall election, Rock Island County has 152 newly-registered voters.

      Chief deputy clerk, John Brown, says one of the main reasons for the new registrations is the local option sales tax for schools that'll be on the ballot March 18th. 

      "Typically you wouldn't have expected 152 of them to have followed through so far. But because there are organizations that are working for the penny sales tax, I know that they've gone into the schools and done a lot of registrations."

      Since the upcoming election will be a partisan primary in a non-presidential year, Brown says most voters are usually more than 50 years old with a long history of voting.

      "Typically our numbers would probably be in the 10 to 20 range under normal circumstances. But because of the school question that's on the ballot, we're very hopeful. The earlier they can vote in their life, the more likely they'll be a lifetime voter."

      He says the real question is how many of the 152 newly-registered young people will actually turn out to vote.

      In-person voting in the Rock Island County clerk's office began last week, and next week early voting will be possible at four additional sites (3/3 thru 3/14) - the Western Illinois University riverfront campus in Moline, the Moline library, Silvis city hall, and Milan municipal building.  Illinois is the 20th state to allow 17 year olds to vote in primary elections.