Allen Turner Howe was born in South Cottonwood, Utah, on 6 September 1927. He was the youngest of six children of Edward E. and Mildred Cuddy Howe. After graduation from Granite High School, where he was a championship debater, he served in the U.S. Coast Guard from 1946 to 1947.
Allen Howe received a bachelor's degree from the University of Utah in 1952, and a juris doctorate from the same school in 1954. He was admitted to the Utah bar in 1955 and practiced law in Murray with his brother, Richard C. Howe, who would later serve as a member of both houses of the state legislature and as a Utah State Supreme Court Justice. Howe married Marlene Dee in 1952, and they are the parents of one daughter and four sons.
Raised in a political family (his father served as a Salt Lake County commissioner from 1929 to 1935), Allen Howe was active in Democratic party politics from an early age. He served as a member of the party's state and Salt Lake County central committees, as a delegate to the Utah State Democratic conventions from 1954 to 1960, and as an alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1960. Howe also served as president of the Utah State and Salt Lake County Young Democrats, as chair of the Western States Young Democratic regional conference from 1958 to 1961, and as national president of the Young Democrats from 1961 to 1963. In 1963 Howe was elected international president of the Atlantic Association of Young Political Leaders, representing youth from the fifteen NATO countries.
In addition to his political activities, Howe also held various governmental posts. He served as deputy Salt Lake County attorney from 1957 to 1959; as South Salt Lake City attorney from 1957 to 1960; as administrative assistant and field representative for Senator Frank E. Moss from 1959 to 1964; as assistant attorney general of Utah from 1965 to 1966; and as administrative assistant to Governor Calvin L. Rampton from 1966 to 1968. In 1968 he was selected as executive director of the Four Corners Regional Development Commission, serving in that capacity for four years.
In 1972 Howe returned to the practice of law in Salt Lake City. In 1974 he entered the race for the Democratic nomination to the U.S. House of Representatives from Utah's second district. After narrowly missing nomination at the party's state convention, he defeated Daryl J. McCarty in the primary election by 3,800 votes. In November Howe defeated Republican Stephen Harmsen by a 49 percent to 47 percent majority, the remaining votes distributed between American Independent and Libertarian party candidates.
On 12 June 1976, in the midst of what most political observers believed would be a successful reelection bid, Howe was arrested for solicitation of police decoy prostitutes. He was found guilty in municipal court on 23 July and sentenced to thirty days in jail and a $150 fine. Howe appealed the conviction, but the jury found him guilty a second time. He was given a thirty-day suspended sentence and ordered to pay court costs. Despite his legal difficulties and appeals from Democratic leaders to withdraw, Howe remained a candidate for Congress. He was defeated in a three-way race by Republican Dan Marriott in the November election, 52 percent to 40 percent, with some 10 percent of the vote going to McCarty as a write-in candidate. After his defeat in 1976, Howe resumed the practice of law in Washington, D.C.