filed under Electoral Reform

Youth Voter Pre-Registration Law Gets Implemented

8:24AM ON 03/18/2010
BY Dave Segal update from FairVote RI — Congratulations to everybody who’s been involved in the effort!  In the last several months, Rhode Island, North Carolina, and California have all adopted this reform, joining Florida and Hawaii, and moving us closer to universal voter registration.

FairVote Rhode Island today congratulated the Rhode Island Board of Elections on implementing a new law that allows 16 and 17 year olds to preregister to vote.

“We know that significantly fewer eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 24 actually register to vote,” said Toby Shepherd, Director of FairVote RI.

“Now, Rhode Island youth as young as sixteen years old can pre-register so that they automatically become eligible on their eighteenth birthday.  We’re confident that this reform will help young people take ownership of their communities and get involved in the political process.”

The bill, sponsored by Representative Edwin Pacheco (D-Burrillville) and Senator Rhoda Perry (D-Providence) was vetoed by Governor Carcieri in July of 2009.  The legislature overrode the veto last January and the Rhode Island Board of Elections has recently printed new registration cards that comply with the new law.

Other states such as Hawaii and Florida also allow preregistration for teenagers.

“I am thrilled that this legislation finally passed,” said Rhoda Perry (D-Providence).  “We hope that pre-registration will motivate young people to vote.”

Fair Vote RI Director Toby Shepherd noted that “voting is habitual – people who get in the habit young will continue to vote later in life.  This new law is a win-win for everybody.”

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