In a press conference held at Middletown City Hall today, Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz urged eligible 17 year-old residents to register to vote in the state party primaries to be held on August 10. Only 17 year-olds who will be 18 before the General Election date of November 2 are eligible.
"Because of an amendment to the state constitution, this is the first time seventeen year-olds are eligible to vote in a primary election," Bysiewicz said. "What we're trying to do is get the word out to some 10,000 seventeen year-olds who are eligible."
Deadline for party registration is August 9. It is also the deadline for any unaffiliated voter to register with a party to become eligible to vote in the primaries.
Bysiewicz held the press conference in Middletown, because there is particular resonance with this community in the effort that led to the passing of the amendment. Middletown legislative representatives Matthew Lesser and Gail Hamm were instrumental in passage of the amendment. In addition Liz Gionfriddo, daughter of a former Middletown mayor, was a student at Mercy High School and collected and submitted signatures to the legislature for passage of the amendment. Gionfriddo, who spoke at the press conference, is now 21.
Mazhar Bokhari, a seventeen year-old graduate of Kingswood-Oxford, who is heading to Syracuse University, also spoke at the press conference.
"In the 2008 elections we had a good amount of young people come out and vote," Bokhari said. "And this amendment will encourage even more young people to vote."
Bokhari's government class teacher, Dr. Ann Serow, encourage all 60 of Bokhari's classmates to register to vote.
"Our country's not in that good a shape right now," Bokhari said. "We are going to be growing up in this bad economy. Voting gives us the chance to elect people who will help fix up the state, and the country."