Universal Voter Registration
 Municipal Right to Vote

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Everyone should have the right to vote in free and fair elections regardless of who they are or where they live. To that end, FairVote advocates for enshrining an affirmative right to vote in the U.S. Constitution. In pursuit of that ideal, FairVote works to enact policies at the federal, state, and local levels that are consistent with our conviction that voting is not a privilege, but a right.

FairVote backed reforms introduced in U.S Senate
Senator Nelson calls for advance registration for sixteen year olds
On June 6, Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida) introduced S. 3100, a bill that would encourage advance voter registration for sixteen year olds, and automatic re-registration of voters who changed their residence.  S. 3100 would create a grant program to provide the States with the funds needed to implement pre-registration for sixteen year olds, so ensuring that they would be on the voter rolls when they turn eighteen.  Pre-registration, combined with automatic re-registration, would be a significant step towards FairVote's goal of universal voter registration.  The bill also makes provision for absentee voting, mail-in voting, and vote verification through paper trails and manual audits.

[Senator Nelson's statement on electoral reform]
[S. 3100]

Victories in Rhode Island, Colorado and Illinois
Key progress on IRV, NPV and 16-year-old registration
It was a good week for FairVote in the states. On May 27, Colorado governor Bill Ritter signed HB 1378, a bill to allow all Colorado municipalities and special districts to use instant runoff voting and choice voting; FairVote's Rob Richie testied for two hours to the task force that recommended the bill last year. In Illinois, the legislature sent to the governor SF 439, a bill to allow municipalities to use IRV ballots to improve voting rights for overseas voters like those serving in the military.

In Rhode Island the State Senate took two critical steps forward on the reform agenda of our FairVote Rhode Island group. It overwhelmingly passed advance voter registration and the National Popular Vote plan. Former US Senator Lincoln Chafee was a key backer of the NPV bill, which has now passed in 18 of our nation's 99 legislative chambers, while FairVote RI has brought together a broad coalition of civic groups to back advance voter registration. The House already passed advance registration, and a bill should go to the governor this year.

[FairVote Rhode Island]
[Colorado Voter Choice Task Force Report]
[Rob Richie's blog on RI wins] 
[Include Every Voter on IRV ballots for overseas voters]

States Consider Youth Voting Rights Bills
FairVote Reforms Moving Across the Country
FairVote proposals expanding voting rights for young people are on the move. Two cornerstone policies of the 100% Registration Project, setting a uniform voter registration age and allowing 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the general election to vote in primaries, have been met with great enthusiasm by state legislators hoping to increase youth participation. Setting a uniform voter registration age of 16 will increase opportunities for young people to register to vote when applying for their driver's license and help schools conduct more successful voter registration drives. This year, California, Rhode Island and Maryland have introduced legislation that would standardize the registration age.

FairVote is also supporting legislative efforts in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Pennsylvania,and New Jersey to allow eligible 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections. Currently, 18 states or state parties allow 17-year-old primary voting, but since FairVote's success in helping restore voting rights to 17-year-olds in Maryland, a number of other states have explored expanding suffrage rights to these young people. The Connecticut legislature has passed the constitutional amendment and it will appear on the ballot in November.

[ Read about FairVote's 100% Registration Project ]
[ Read the uniform registration bills: California, Rhode Island, Maryland ]
[ Read the 17-year-old primary voting bills: New Hampshire, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey ]
[ Read more about Maryland youth voting rights ]
[ Read FairVote op-eds in the Maryland Gazette and the Concord Monitor ]
[ Read Executive Director Rob Richie's vision of 100% Registration ]

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Recent Articles
October 19th 2009
Mandatory Voting? Automatic Registration? How Un-American!
Huffington Post

President of Air America Media, Mark Green, explains why Instant Runoff Voting, Automatic Registration and Mandatory Voting are not only important but could lead to a more democratic society.

September 30th 2009
Can a 17-year-old register to vote? It depends
Ventura County Star

"Most Californians register to vote not because a political cause has touched their heart, but rather because they checked a box on a form at the Department of Motor Vehicles when they received or renewed their driverís license."

September 27th 2009
Giving teens a civic voice
The Fayetteville Observer

In January, North Carolina will become the third state to implement FairVote-endorsed youth preregistration.

September 8th 2009
Give voters final say on vacancies

The two legislators proposing a constitutional amendment mandating elections to fill Senate vacancies make their case in the pages of Politico.