THE WAY DEMOCRACY WILL BE
For Immediate Release
/ October 11th 2007
10 Great Reasons to Support Youth Pre-Registration in Rhode Island
- Research has shown time and again that young voters who vote as soon as they are eligible are more likely to vote throughout their lifetimes. Those who skip it the first time risk falling into a pattern of apathy. Increasing registrations during the critical period can increase long-term participation rates
- Registering people at a younger age, in structured environments like schools and the Department of Motor Vehicles, could increase the accuracy of the voter list by getting people on the rolls in situations where they are most likely to be exactly who they say they are.
- Registering in structured environments like schools and the DMV also creates more opportunities for voter education, particularly for young people. This could ultimately lead to more engaged and educated participants, capable not only of voting and taking part, but of becoming the next generation of poll and election workers.
- Approximately 80% of students leaving their home states for college vote in their home states by absentee ballot if they vote. This measure ensures they are able to vote easily when the time comes, and that they get registered in, and stay connected to, their communities.
- Pre-registering to vote is a great way for young people themselves to get involved in their government, and to give them a feeling of agency. Pre-registration connects voting with an exciting period of growth for young adults and emphasizes civic responsibilities at a critical, early stage.
- Passing this bill now would mean capitalizing on the voter excitement surrounding the 2008 election, further boosting registration and ultimately participation.
- Governor Carcieri's veto message said, "the state should concentrate on cleaning up its voter list before it adds a new category of people not yet eligible to vote." The goal of creating a clean voter list is admirable and necessary, but adding 16 and 17 year olds could be done while fully maintaining the integrity of the voter list.
- In fact, Rhode Island's central voter registration system already uses a PENDING/ACTIVE column, and already allows those eligible by the date of the election to register before reaching the age of 18. Newly eligible registrants under HB 6215 could be kept PENDING until they reached the age of eligibility, and could register without the current system skipping a beat. Rhode Island is ready.
- Pre-registration of young people is already law in many states, including Hawaii, Minnesota, Maine, Oregon and most recently Florida, where a Republican Governor signed this bipartisan bill into law.
- Pre-registration has broad support in Rhode Island. Not only has it passed the General Assembly twice, but a growing network of organizations has endorsed over-riding the governor's veto this year. This network includes the RI AFL-CIO, Clean Water Action, DARE, Ocean State Action and many others.