17-Year-Olds Are Casting Their First Ballots In Utah This Week
Tuesday is primary voting day in Utah and, under a new state law, some 17-year-olds will be heading to the polls for the first time.
The new law, which state lawmakers passed in April, allows 17-year-olds who will turn 18 by the November elections to vote in primary races. Zachary Thomas, a recent graduate of Weber High School in Pleasant View, said casting his first ballot — his primary vote, which he sent in by mail — was "an aweseome feeling."
Like many of his peers, this year has been a time of heightened political awareness for him. Thomas organized a walkout at his school this past March in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.
There has been an public outcry for gun reform from teenagers across the country, but Thomas said it means very little if they don’t vote.
"High school students can shout and scream all they want, and I’ve done that," Thomas said. "But we have to vote in November to be taken seriously moving forward.”
The numbers are clear. The age group with the lowest voter turnout are those in their late teens and early 20s. But Thomas hopes he’s part of a new generation that will turn that around, one ballot at a time.