Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Democratic Georgia Rep. Nikema Williams introduced the Youth Voting Rights Act On Monday, which would require states to establish voting pre-registration processes for 16 and 17-year-olds.
Under the mandate, every state will be forced to implement a process under which “individuals may apply to register to vote in elections for Federal office in the State at any time on or after the date on which the individual turns 16 years of age” to ensure they can vote as soon as they turn 18.
The Democratic Party has been increasingly losing voters as President Joe Biden’s approval rating is still below 40%. New voter registration data found that more than one million voters in more than 40 states have switched to the Republican Party this past year, according to PBS.
However, Democrats tend to have an advantage among younger voters. 55% of likely voters prefer Democratic leadership, while only 34% prefer Republican leadership, according to a 2022 Harvard Youth Poll.
Additionally, the younger Americans are, the more likely they are to hold liberal beliefs; the average American was more likely to identify as politically liberal at age 25 but more likely to be conservative 20 years later, a Chicago Booth Review study found.
NEW: I’m introducing the Youth Voting Rights Act with @SenWarren. Our votes are our voices, and young citizens face disproportionate barriers to voting. We can end age-based barriers to voting and protect the #YouthVote.https://t.co/82ZDqvxccD
— Congresswoman Nikema Williams (@RepNikema) July 11, 2022
The act also permits states to make pre-registration able for minors who are younger than 16 years of age, and there is no minimum age requirement for pre-registration suggested within the bill.
Warren’s and Williams’ bill also requires that voting locations accept college student IDs as valid identification in federal elections.
If passed, the bill would also prohibit durational residency requirements for all federal elections, allowing individuals to effectively choose if they want to vote in their state of residency or the state where they attend college.
“Lower youth voting rates are not a sign of generational apathy but of systemic barriers and issues with the culture of political engagement that have plagued young people of various generations for decades,” the bill claims. “Voter turnout is bolstered by on-campus voting locations because those locations lower the opportunity costs for voting for all registered voters, particularly for young registered voters.”
The bicameral bill is sponsored by six Senate Democrats and 15 House Democrats.
“Young people are the future of America, and with voting rights under attack across the country, we must do everything we can to ensure they can exercise their right to vote,” Sen. Warren said in a statement.
This comprehensive legislation will guarantee that states accept broader forms of ID that meet voter-identification requirements,” added New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker.
Warren and Williams did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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