Sarah Boltuck and her father, Richard, fought to restore the right for Maryland 17-year-olds to vote in primaries if they turn 18 by the general election. (By Lois Raimondo — The Washington Post)
By Daniel de Vise/Washington Post Staff Writer
Sarah Boltuck’s senior year at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda was transformed by a rejection letter — not from a college, but from the Montgomery County Board of Elections.
It said she could not vote in the February primary because she was not yet 18. Boltuck thought differently. She fought it all the way to the state elections board and the attorney general’s office, and she won.
Last month, Boltuck, along with her father and a sympathetic state senator, persuaded Maryland’s top legal minds to restore the right of suffrage to at least 50,000 teens who will turn 18 between the Feb. 12 primary and the Nov. 4 election.
“I thought that was one of my rights as a citizen of Maryland,” said Boltuck, who will be 18 in July. “I had assumed that when I registered to vote, it’d be no problem.”
She called attention to a little-noticed change in interpretation of state law. Maryland was one of nine states, including Virginia, that allowed 17-year-olds to vote in primaries if they reached 18 by the general election. (The District does not.) But the Maryland State Board of Elections quietly halted the practice in December 2006 in response to a state court ruling.
QUESTION: Should 17-year-olds who will be old enough to vote in the general election be allowed to vote in their states’ primaries?