An Ohio judge has granted teenagers who will turn 18 before Election Day the right to vote in the state’s presidential primary elections in a new decision that could boost Bernie Sanders‘s chances in the state on Tuesday.
Sanders’s team sued to change the state law, but a judge decided Friday on a different state-level case that effectively provided the same outcome.
The Vermont senator’s White House campaign has been boosted by strong support from younger voters, so the decision could prove important in the crucial state of Ohio, which has 143 delegates up for grabs.
Ohio had barred 17-year-olds from voting on primary day regardless of if they would be eligible for the general election.
But the timing of the decision, just days before the Tuesday primary, could dampen any potential gains.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted bashed the ruling in a statement released after the decision.
“This last minute legislating from the bench on election law has to stop. Our system cannot give one county court the power to change 30 years of election law for the entire state of Ohio, 23 days into early voting and only four days before an election,” he said.
“We will appeal this decision because if there is a close election on Tuesday we need clarity from the Supreme Court to make sure that ineligible voters don’t determine the outcome of an election.”
His statement added that 17-year olds are eligible to vote in other local elections.
The ruling’s implications are more clouded on the Republican side, since no one candidate has laid claim to younger voters.