Voting Age Extended to 17-Year-Olds

Dave Dahl / IRN

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (IRN/Capitol Bureau) – The real-life social studies lesson—the political campaign—is near a climax.

The vote is extended to 17-year-olds if they will be 18 in time for the November election. Some kids will ask for mom and dad for advice, others will be like T.V.’s Alex P. Keaton and do the exact opposite.

Dean Cantu, Department Chairperson and Professor at Bradley University, has a stake in all of this. He runs the Illinois council for social studies and also directs the Teachers Education Program at the University.

“My hope is that there they are going to make an informed decision,” Cantu says. “What’s great, I think about the fact that you’ve got 17 year olds out there voting is many of them are in civics classes as we speak. So they’re talking about those issues, they’re getting that well-grounded foundation or understand of civic life, politics, government.”

“In Illinois, I know that we have one of the largest Latino populations for example,” Cantu says. “In that demographic, you find a lot that there’s a large number that are in that 17- to 30-year-old category. So, that would mean that by doing this you’ll see a larger representation of Latinos in the voting population as a result of changing the age to 17.”

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