SPRINGFIELD — The voting age in Illinois could drop to 17 in certain elections under a proposal heading to Gov. Pat Quinn's desk.

The legislation, which would allow 17-year-olds to cast ballots in primary elections if they will be 18 for the November general elections, was approved on a 43-9 vote in the Illinois Senate.

State Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, said the change could result in more voter participation.

"It's been a successful endeavor to lower it to 18," Link said.

All Democrats supported the measure. Among the Republicans voting "no" were state Sens. Dale Righter of Mattoon, Chapin Rose of Mahomet, Tim Bivins of Dixon, Darin LaHood of Dunlap and Kyle McCarter of Lebanon.

"In some regions of this state, the primary (election) is the general," Righter said. "I think that we should keep the playing field level."

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If approved by Quinn, Illinois would become the 20th state to allow minors to vote in primaries. In Iowa, 17-year-olds can participate in the presidential caucuses as long as they are 18 by the time of the general election.

The legislation is House Bill 226.

I'm the city editor at the Quad-City Times. You can reach me at dbowerman@qctimes.com or 563-383-2450.