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Kansas Teenagers Out of Governor Race

FILE - Candidate for Kansas governor Tyler Ruzich, second from right, 17, of Prairie Village, Kansas, talks to students during a forum at Free State High School in Lawrence, Kan., Oct. 19, 2017.
Kansas Teenagers Out of Governor Race
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The American state of Kansas held its primary election on Tuesday. Results from primaries determine which candidates will represent political parties in the general election in November.

Tyler Ruzich was one of the candidates for Kansas governor. He hoped to become the Republican Party’s nominee.

On Tuesday afternoon, he and his running mate went to their local voting station. Later, he held a watch party for friends and supporters.

Kansas Teen Candidates Concede Election
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But Ruzich did not get to vote for himself -- or for anyone else. At just 17 years of age, he is still too young.

The minimum voting age in the United States is 18.

“You don’t have to vote to be a voter,” Ruzich told some of his friends at his election watch party. “Being here means you’re a voter...and that you’re standing by someone you support.”

Ruzich was not the only candidate too young to vote in the primary election. Seventeen-year-old Jack Bergeson ran as a candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination. And Joseph Tutera, also 17, hoped to represent the Republican Party in November.

In total, six Kansas teenagers had declared their candidacy for governor. They did so after discovering last year that the Kansas constitution does not have a minimum age requirement to run for office.

Kansas has since passed a law requiring future candidates to be at least 18 years of age.

The teenage gubernatorial candidates gained national media attention. They also helped bring attention to voting issues in their state. The nonprofit organization Rock the Vote considers Kansas to be a “blocker” state. That means there are many barriers to voter registration.

None of the teenage candidates won their primary races on Tuesday. But they believe they inspired more young people to take part in elections and vote.

Joseph Tutera said the state saw a higher turnout than usual for primary elections.

“We’re actually having something like the highest voter turnout in 14 years for the primary and I’d like to think that’s because of me,” Tutera told VOA.

Jack Bergeson (right) and his running mate Alexander Cline.
Jack Bergeson (right) and his running mate Alexander Cline.

Jack Bergeson conceded the Democratic primary race Tuesday night. He said even though he did not win, he met many of his goals.

“I was able to stand on a stage and debate a lot of the big names in the state and I was really able to show that there is a difference between the establishment and uncorrupted candidates,” Bergeson told VOA.

I'm Ashley Thompson.

Esha Sarai wrote this report for VOA News. Ashley Thompson adapted it for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.


Words in This Story

running mate - n. the person who runs with someone in an election (such as an election to choose a new president) and who is given the less important position (such as vice president) if they are elected

minimum - adj. the lowest number or amount that is possible or permitted

gubernatorial - adj. of or relating to the governor of a U.S. state or to the position of governor

concede - v. to admit that you have been defeated and stop trying to win

stage - n. a raised platform in a theater, auditorium, etc., where the performers stand