Posted by Esha Sarai | 9 August 2018 | 1,737 times
On Tuesday afternoon, Kansas gubernatorial candidate Tyler Ruzich accompanied his running mate Dominic Scavuzzo to the polling station to cast his ballot
But Ruzich didn't vote because, at 17 years of age, he's too young.
"You don't have to vote to be a voter," Ruzich told some of his friends, also under the legal voting age, at his election watch party Tuesday night.
"Being here means you're a voter — that you're encouraging your friends and family to make an educated choice, and that you're standing by someone you support."
Ruzich was one of three gubernatorial candidates in Kansas unable to vote for themselves in this primary election because they were not yet 18-years-old — the age requirement to vote in the United States.
The three candidates were among six Kansas teenagers who had declared their candidacy for governor after discovering last year that the state constitution did not have a minimum age requirement to run for office. None of the three won their parties' nomination in the primary elections on Tuesday night.
Of the six original candidates, Scavuzzo, 18, withdrew over the summer to join Ruzich's campaign. Libertarian Ethan Randleas, 18, did not receive his party's nomination in May. Aaron Coleman, 18, running as an independent, will be a write-in candidate in the November general election.
State Senator Laura Kelly won the Democratic nomination early Tuesday night. But as of Wednesday evening, the Republican race was still too close to call between incumbent Jeff Colyer and Kris Kobach, who was endorsed by President Donald Trump.
The Kansas legislature has since passed a law requiring candidates to be at least 18 years of age. But this unique opportunity allowed these teenagers to experience running for office early in their careers, and drew their attention to issues in their state such as voter registration.
Rock the Vote, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging the political activism of America's youth, has deemed Kansas a "blocker" state, indicating many barriers to voter registration.
Kansas does not allow automatic voter registration or same-day registration. Kansas residents must register to vote 21 days before the election in which they wish to vote. The state also does not allow those who will be 18 years old by the time of the general election to vote in the primaries — as is the case with Ruzich.
Though they don't have hard numbers on it yet, all three candidates feel that in spite of the difficulties Kansans face while registering to vote, they have inspired more young people to go to the polls.
Ultimately, though some Kansas voters admired the enthusiasm of the young candidates, they felt the job of governor required someone with more experience. (VOA)
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