Let youth register to vote at 17.
Some people say young people don't vote. But in the last presidential election, four out of five 18-24s who were registered turned out to vote. That's an impressive number. The problem? Only 58% of 18-24s year-olds are registered, and, of course, no one can vote who isn't registered. Many states have increased the number of young people who are registered by allowing young people to register as soon as they turn 17. It's a simple step that saves money (fewer last minute registrations means less work for elections officials) and helps people vote. It's time for pre-registration to become the law of the land in Massachusetts.
H.683, a bill to let 17 year-olds pre-register to vote is currently sitting in the Joint Committee on Election Laws. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ellen Story, does not change the voting age (18), but it does let all young citizens register once they turn 16 and a half. Pre-registrants are placed in the pending status in the Central Voter Registry and appear on voter rolls when they turn 18.
Today, it's hard to register voters at high schools. Most high school students are not eligible to register until the spring of their senior year. In the fall, when people are talking about and thinking about elections,only a few seniors are eligible to register.
With pre-registration, 16 and 17 year-olds can registered systematically within History, Social Studies, and Civics classes. They can register at schools, youth centers, and after-school programs, while learning about government, history, and civics. They can also register at the RMV. Passing preregistration will help city elections officials and town clerks by reducing the number of last minute registrations that pour in before the deadline, saving money and reducing the need for temp staff.
Please tell Speaker DeLeo and Committee Chairman Michael Moran to move this important, no-cost bill out of committee and pass it.
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