Get 'Em (Ready to Vote) While They're Young
A movement is growing within the states to swing the doors of our democracy wide open, encouraging and facilitating the active participation of young people in the electoral process.
Progress this legislative session:
Arizona: Representative Ed Ableser introduced HB 2384 and HB 2026, respectively allowing for pre-registration of 16-year-olds, and for 17-year-old primary voting.
California: Assemblyman Curren Price introduced AB 30, to allow 16-year-olds to pre-register to vote. It has passed the House Elections Committee and the House Appropriations Committee. It may see a floor vote as soon as the first week of June..
Connecticut: House Bill 6439 implements a recently passed amendment to the State Constitution to allow for 17-year-old primary voting. It has unanimously passed both the House and Senate.
Illinois: House Bill 2629 by Representative Kathy Ryg would allow for 17-year-old primary voting.
Kansas: House Bill 2256 by Representative Milack Talia would create a uniform pre-registration age of 14-years-old. (FairVote is supportive of the philosophy that underpins this legislation, but would suggest that a 16-year-old pre-registration age would be sufficient.)
Kentucky: Provisions for pre-registration for 16-year-olds and mandatory public education about elections were introduced by Senator Jerry Rhoads, in the form of an amendment to Senate Bill 109.
Maryland: Senate Bill 671, allowing for pre-registration of 16-year-olds, was introduced by Senator Jamin Raskin. The bill did not get out of committee, although testimony from the Maryland Board of Elections indicated that it would have no fiscal impact.
Massachusetts: Representative Ellen Story has introduced House Bill 3895, allowing for pre-registration of 16-year-olds. House Bill 1592 by Representative Steve D'Amico would allow for 17-year-old primary voting.
Michigan: House Bill 4261, by Representatives Lesia Liss and Matt Lori, would allow 16-year-olds to pre-register to vote. It passed the House on May 14th by a 92-18 margin, with majority support from both Republicans and Democrats and a broad coalition from across the spectrum. Senator Cameron Brown has introduced a companion bill, as SB 61. (The bill has some limitations on where registration can take place, and what sort of identification is necessary to register.)
Minnesota: HF 873 by Representative Paul Marquart and SF 606 by Senator Ann Rest would allow for 17-year-old primary voting.
New York: A 5110 by Assemblyman Michael Cusick would amend the state constitution to permit 17-year-old primary voting.
North Carolina: HB 1260, by Representative Angela Bryant and others, is known as the "Teen Pre-registration and High School Civic Education Act." Passed by the House with a 102-14 vote, it. allows for 16-year-olds to pre-register to vote and requires local boards of education to develop plans to educate high school students in voter registration and voting. A majority of both Republicans and Democrats supported the legislation, while it was backed by civic groups that included Democracy North Carolina, FairVote North Carolina. League of Women Voters of North Carolina, NC Center for Voter Education, NC Civic Education Consortium, Common Cause North Carolina, El Pueblo Inc. and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.
Rhode Island: House Bill 5005 by Representative Edwin Pacheco passed the House on March 10th by a margin of 56-10, while Senate Bill 85 by Senator Rhoda Perry passed the Senate on March 19th by a margin of 32-2. Both bills would allow for the pre-registration of 16-year-olds and saw support from half of the Republican caucuses, in addition to a majority of Democrats.
Washington: House Joint Resolution 4204 by Representative Zack Hudgins would propose a constitutional amendment to allow 17 year-olds to vote in primaries, while House Bill 1193 By Representative Marko Liias would allow 13-year-olds to pre-register to vote. (As in the case of the Kansas legislation, we believe that a 16-year-old pre-registration age is sufficient.)
Wisconsin: The introduction of FairVote's youth-engagement package is expected, upon passage of the state's budget in June.
Wyoming: House Bill 76 allows for the pre-registration of all voters who will be 18 as of the next general election. This is an advance, and will sometimes allow 16-year-olds to register, depending on the point in the electoral cycle. (A uniform 16-year-old voter registration age would be less confusing, and more practicable.)
Previous editions of Innovative Analysis can be found here. Contact: Paul Fidalgo, communications director: paul(at)fairvote.org, (301) 270-4616
- Project Vote's Erin Ferns blogs at TPM on Pre-registration
- Progressive States Network: Expand Youth Voting
- Brennan Center's resources on modernizing voter registration
- New America Foundation on Pre-Registration
- Rock the Vote Supports CA and RI Pre-registration Bills
- Common Cause on Voter Registration Reforms
- Michigan House Legislative Analysis of Pre-registration
- FairVote North Carolina Voter Pre-registration and Education Project
- Youth Voter Pre-registration in Rhode Island
- FairVote.blog: Pawlenty Vetoes Automatic Registration Bill
- Katrina vanden Heuvel advocates for universal voter registration in the Nation