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Ohio 17-year-olds sue state for right to vote in primary

(Reuters) - A group of 17-year-olds in Ohio on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the Ohio secretary of state seeking to have their ability to vote in the upcoming presidential primary restored after it was eliminated in December.

The nine teenagers from across the state, who will turn 18 before November’s general election, claimed in the lawsuit filed in state court that Secretary of State Jon Husted’s interpretation of state law was incorrect.

The teens asked the Court of Common Pleas in Franklin County for a preliminary injunction ahead of the state’s primaries on March 15.

Husted in December modified the state’s election manual to say that 17-year-olds are allowed only to nominate candidates for a general election but are prohibited from voting for delegates, according to the suit.

“They are not permitted to elect candidates, which is what voters are doing in a primary when they elect delegates to represent them at their political party’s national convention,” Husted said in a statement on Tuesday.

The teenagers argue Husted’s interpretation contradicts state law and a previous ruling by the state Supreme Court that allows 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the general election to vote in presidential primaries.

In the Ohio primary, 66 delegates are at stake for the Republicans and 159 for the Democrats. The teenagers in the lawsuit are asking Husted to be required to notify county election boards by Friday of the court’s ruling.

Reporting By Brendan O’Brien; Editing by Ben Klayman and Cynthia Osterman