Teenage Candidate

Gay Lynn HillStudy Break

Worried about today’s young people? Think they’re clueless human extensions of earbuds? Here are some stories that might make you change your mind.

This year, politics are getting a youth infusion in some surprising ways. While there have been some prank candidates in the past (read about the 2016 presidential campaign of then high school sophomore Brady “Deez Nuts” Olson), 6 teenagers are running for governor in Kansas.

How is this possible? The United States Commission on Civil Rights says Kansas has among the strictest voter identification laws of any state in the country. Yet, Kansas has no real laws about who can run for state office. As Voice of America reported, Bryan Caskey is the Kansas director of elections recently said, “There’s seriously nothing on the books that lays out anything, no age, no residency, no experience. Nothing.”

That includes no age requirement. That’s what 17-year-old Jack Bergeson decided to exploit – he filed the proper paperwork to run last November, and was quickly followed by five other teens. Another loophole – not needing to reside in the state – has also recently been exploited. Three students from Delaware (two from the University of Delaware, one a high school junior)  also filed to run for governor of Kansas.

In reaction to the teenage candidates, one person thought the governor’s race had gone to the dogs, so much so that he entered his own dog to be a candidate. This did not amuse the Kansas Secretary of State’s office who quickly announced it would not permit Angus the dog to run for governor.

Another group of people who were not amused were Kansas legislators. Republican Rep. Blake Carpenter told CNN he introduced House Bill 2539 on January 24, 2018, which states that candidates running for any government office in Kansas should be at least 18 years old and be a resident of the state for at least four consecutive years. If passed, it would become effective on January 1, 2019 to avoid conflict with these current candidates.

Are these teenagers sincere in their desire to govern or just trying to have a little fun with the system? Do you think there should be an age requirement to be allowed to run for a state office? Is it time for a fresh take on governance? Take this discussion to our Facebook page.