And We Wonder Why Young People Dont Vote

Here is a story that will make you think, “what were they thinking”? There is nothing like an administrative bureaucracy taking the excitement out of becoming a voter.


Seventeen-year-old Bethesda resident Sarah Boltuck cast a provisional ballot in February’s primary election — and legally, her vote counted. It was a triumph for the teen, after months of filing complaints, talking with state legislators and testifying in Annapolis to guarantee suffrage for 17-year-olds who will be 18 by November’s general election.

But on April 24, the Montgomery County Board of Elections sent her a letter that seemed to reverse everything: ‘‘Because you will not be 18 years old or older on or before the next election, you are not yet eligible to register and vote in Montgomery County,” it read. The county’s Board of Elections would be in touch again when she is eligible to vote, the letter said.

It seems that the problem is that you can vote in the presidential primary at 17 (because the voter will be 18 by November) and then in the elections after turning 18, but not in the elections in the interim.

The board’s attorney Kevin Karpinsky explained it was a sort of glitch in the system. Some 17-year-olds who qualified for general election voting in November were put on temporary ‘‘pending” status. This was to avoid confusing election judges during special elections for Congressional District 4 in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and County Council District 4 in Montgomery County, and accidentally opening the door to ineligible voters. The change in voting status triggered the state Board of Elections to send registered 17-year-olds the boilerplate letter that Boltuck received. The letter on county Board of Elections letterhead was actually sent by the state Board of Elections, which had purview over the registration issue.

Alas, the confusing nature of multi-jurisdictional control over elections.