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    Preregistration Legislation on the Move in CA and RI



    Check out this article from Talking Points Memo and Project Vote, “States Move to Create Culture of Voter Engagement through Preregistration”:

    The rising levels of voter participation among the nation’s youth continue to be challenged by the current voter registration system, perpetuating the difficulty of fostering lifelong voters.  Some states are proposing to take this challenge into their own hands by making voter registration accessible to citizens as young as 16.  Already widely accessible at schools and departments of motor vehicles, the move would allow future voters in some states to automatically be enrolled on the voter rolls on their 18th birthdays, a change that advocates say could “close the registry gap between young voters and the rest of the population.”  California and Rhode Island are among the states that have introduced legislation permitting 16- and 17-year-old citizens to register to vote in advance of their 18th birthdays.  Rhode Island bills, SB 85 and HB 5005 show promise to pass the legislature – a prospect that is nothing new to the state, which has passed such bills three years in a row only to have them vetoed by the governor, according to research and advocacy group, Fair Vote.

    “It’s good public policy to get young people involved as early as possible in the democratic process,” said Fair Vote Rhode Island Director Matt Sledge in Brown University’s Daily Herald last week. The preregistration bill, he said, would “close the registry gap between young voters and the rest of the population.”

    Today, multiple states allow certain citizens under age 18 to preregister to vote, including Rhode Island and California. However, Hawaii and Florida are the only states to have enacted dedicated preregistration laws that permit all citizens as young as 16 to register to vote, which advocates argue is the best way to incorporate youth into the democratic process.

    Institutionalizing preregistration not only makes it easier to conduct and participate in voter registration activities on high school campuses and DMVs since it captures more young people before they graduate, but it also helps “boost the effectiveness of civics education by tying it directly to civic participation through the opportunity to preregister,” according to a Fair Vote report.

    We here at Rock the Vote know all too well that registration can be one of the biggest barriers young people face when trying to vote for the first time.  This legislation is a great step in the right direction – preregistration is a great way to simplify the process and encourage a new generation of engaged voters.  Rock on, California and Rhode Island!

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    Rock the Vote
    Bio: Rock the Vote was founded in 1990 to organize artists and fight against censorship of musicians. Since then we've evolved to focus on empowering young people to get involved in the political process. We use pop culture, peer-to-peer organizing, and the latest technology to raise visibility of politics and demystify the process of registering to vote.
    @rockthevote
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com

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