June 5, 2018

Moving towards younger voting

US News & World Report -Washington is among at least a dozen states seeking to expand voter engagement and turnout by allowing young residents to pre-register to vote or allowing them to vote in primary or general elections before they reach the federal minimum age of 18. Utah recently changed its law to allow 17-year-olds to vote in primaries, as long as the voters will be 18 by the time of the general election. Maine and Nevada made the change to be effective Jan. 1 of this year. About a third of states already permit 17-year-olds to vote in primaries as long as they turn 18 by Election Day.

The District of Columbia is considering legislation to lower the voting age to 16 (something some localities already allow for local elections only). Bills are pending in California, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Puerto Rico to lower the voting age to 17 for primary or general elections.
Early pre-registration, meanwhile, is allowed in 22 states, and bills have been introduced in eight others (Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina) to similarly register teens in advance of their federal eligibility to cast a ballot.
Advocates say the moves will turn youth into lifelong voters, strengthening democracy. "It's a vicious cycle." says Democratic Utah state Rep. Joel Briscoe, author of the Beehive State's new law and a former high school social studies teacher. "Politicians say, 'Young people don't vote,' so they don't pay attention to them. And young people say, 'They don't pay attention to us; why should we vote?'"
But "all of the research shows that the earlier people vote, the more likely they are to vote" the rest of their lives, he adds, so getting them involved early sets them on the right track.

No comments: