On March 8th, the NYT said "Bernie Sanders Sues Over Ohio Rule Barring 17-Year-Olds From Primary," but yesterday's NYT article — "Bernie Sanders Praises Ruling Allowing 17-Year-Olds to Vote in Ohio" — began "A group of 17-year-olds in Ohio has successfully persuaded a state judge to allow them to vote in the state’s primary on Tuesday."
Who brought the lawsuit? Sanders or a group of teenagers? Answer: Both. The March 8th article says that Sanders filed a suit in federal district court. (He argued that the Ohio Secretary of State Jon A. Husted, had "'arbitrarily' discriminated against young black and Latino voters by not allowing 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the general election to vote in Ohio’s primary next week.")
But the decision that was announced yesterday came from a state judge. The article about the victory at the trial court level in that case eventually refers to the federal court case. A decision in that case is expected on Monday (and I'll bet that the federal judge abstains in deference to the state court proceedings). There was duplicative litigation, presumably to increase the publicity about the issue and the likelihood of some useful action from a court.
The primary is this coming Tuesday, so how is this litigation supposed to play out sensibly? There will be an appeal from the state court's decision, and the state appellate courts will have to act very quickly, perhaps visiting disappointment on the teenagers at the 11th hour, just as they were envisioning their sunny jaunt to the polls for the very first time.
Young people are being encouraged to feel that they are being treated unfairly, discriminated against, and I expect the primary day media to be filled with fresh-faced idealistic 17-year-olds yearning to participate in democracy. They've got to fill the airwaves with something on Tuesday, as we're so interested in what's happening but there are no results to report yet. How many 18- and 19-year-olds will feel inspired to go down there to the polls and vote on behalf of their oppressed fellow teenagers and cast that vote for Bernie, the old man who cares about the youngest of the young voters? And even older voters will get a charge out of the fight against that "'arbitrar[y]' discriminat[ion] against young black and Latino voters."
Oh, it's a fine brew of law and politics. Drink up, children! Feel the Bern!