Millennics EP9 – Primary Voting at Age 17

EP9 – Primary Voting at Age 17 is NOT Unconstitutional and Millennics Host Jonathan J. Cianfaglione explains why.

Host: Jonathan J. Cianfaglione (@jjcianfaglione via twitter)
Presented by:
Support from: VIG & Associates

Find Millennics on iTunes and SoundCloud.

Show Resources:

For more on everything voting, including primary voting at age 17, click here.

Show Notes:

Millennics EP9 – Primary Voting at Age 17, Apr. 8, 2016.

On episode 9 of Millennics, we’re talking about primary and caucus voting at age 17.

Welcome to another episode of Millennics, a podcast discussing politics, policy, and law from the viewpoint of Millennials.  I’m your host, Jonathan J. Cianfaglione, and Millennics is presented by and support for this podcast comes from VIG and Associates.

Before I go any further, I want to thank all the listeners and supporters of the Millennics podcast.  Last week we ran into a tech issue; but not a tech issue with equipment.  Instead, we ran out of space on the interwebs!!!  Put in another way, thanks to all the listeners and subscribers to the Millennics podcast, we had to increase how much space we had to support the demand.  So, thank you so much, keep listening, and its very humbling.

Ok, so this episode’s topic came from a listener.  The listener asked why is it constitutional for someone under the age of 18 to vote in a primary or caucus citing the 26th amendment.

As a footnote, I addressed that question immediately, as I always do; So, never hesitate to pose questions or engage me on twitter @jjcianfaglione or Facebook at  I’ll jump into the convo right away and we can flesh topics and issues out as go.

I digress.  Let’s take up the question of whether it is unconstitutional to allow persons under the age of 18 to vote in a primary or caucus.

In short, no.  Let’s go through why:

1.First, let’s put our dominant political parties—republican and democrat—in context.  BTW, I use dominant political party, b/c there are others out there, they just aren’t as demanding.  The dominant political parties are simply organizations, or private clubs.  Indeed, they are no different than any other organization that has members, and has both a national and local presence.  As a corollary, consider the NRA.  Like the dominant political parties, the NRA is an organization, or private club.  Moreover, the both have a national and state presence.  Where the NRA and any of the dominant political parties splinter is their vast stance.  The NRA has focused on one topic—the right to bear arms—while the political parties are just houses of thought.  Indeed, each dominant political party does not circumscribe itself to any one issue; instead, they have chosen to take a stance on every issue.  In so doing, they have virtually guaranteed their perpetual existence as they continue to gobble up new issues that present themselves.  Therefore, the dominant political parties are private organizations of thought, that just so happen to dominate every public office.

2.Recognize that primaries aren’t elections.  Let me make that more definite.  Primaries are internal elections, but not elections to public office.  When a candidate wins a primary or caucus for whatever office the candidate is running for, they don’t win the office.  What the candidate is winning is the coalescing of the people in that party.  Similar to the how I put it in Millennics EP8 discussing Delegate Math, a primary or caucus is more like a sports season.  Winning a primary, is like clinching the playoffs—you’ve just earned the right to continue to play, but you haven’t won the championship yet.

3.Their is a caveat, though to the aforementioned.  The problem with my example of saying that winning a primary is like clinching the playoffs, and that it merely affords the candidate to continue playing for the championship is that a primary or caucus is not binding.  As I also said in point 2, a primary and/or caucus is simply an internal election of that party.  That means that it is simply traditional and for that party’s purposes and the outcome of such does not preclude someone from continuing their bid for public office.  This shouldn’t seem crazy to anyone, b/c this has been the exact issue for the GOP presidential race, where candidates have lofted the idea that they would run even if they lose the primary. This isn’t a novel idea either.  Consider Arizona’s 2014 mid-term election.  There, the race for Arizona Attorney General had three candidates: a democrat, a republican, and the incumbent democrat.  Thus, the democrat won her primary b/c she was unopposed.  On the Republican side, though, the seat was opposed and the incumbent republican sparred with the rising republican.  At the conclusion of the primary, the incumbent republican lost to the rising republican. Nevertheless, the incumbent republican announced that he would continue to run for the office anyways.  In the end, the party eventually walked the incumbent away from the cliff and the incumbent forfeited his bid to the opposing republican.  The take away here, though, is that a primary and caucus is simply an internal vote, inherently traditional, and, thus, the outcome does not preclude the candidate from continuing to seek public office.

4.It’s worth noting that the dominant political parties have not made primary or caucus voting completely unrestricted.  Currently, the states that do allow persons under the age of 18 to vote in a primary or caucus, must reach the age of 18 before or on the date of the actual election.  Additionally, the dominant political parties have yet to reach a majority consensus on whether they should allow persons under the age of 18 to vote in a primary or caucus.  As of today, the nation is split evenly, with 25 states allowing voters at age 17 to vote in a primary or caucus, and 25 states that still prohibit such.  Why?  Well, consider what I said: the dominant political parties are at both the national and state level.  The national party has left it to the state parties to decide how they want to conduct their primary or caucus.  Thus, each state party draws up their own rules, and, consequently, can choose to either include or exclude persons under the age of 18.

Lastly, I want to just mention that their are several benefits, in terms of political science, to including persons under the age of 18, but will reach the age of 18 by the actual election, in a primary or caucus.  The most important factors are drawing people into the political and democratic process, thereby allowing their voice to be heard prior to the actual election b/c in fact it will be heard at the upcoming election. Not allowing such, concerns folks that soon-to-be 18 y.o. will abstain from voting due to being uninterested, uninformed, or excluded in the process.

That’s going to do it for this episode of Millennics on primary and caucus voting at age 17.  Again, thanks to all the listeners for your continued support, and don’t forget to find the Millennics podcast on iTunes, and Soundcloud.  Feel free to connect with me on twitter @jjcianfaglione and Facebook at

Until Next time.