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photo from fair vote facebook page encouraging pre-registration for young voters
The recent escalation of the war on women's rights to contraception in the Hobby Lobby decision by the male members of the U.S. Supreme Court—and I'm not talking about abortion—but the pill and other contraceptive devices, got me to thinking.  

There are a lot of young women who are currently using contraception. Planned Parenthood reports that "among teenage women who are at risk of unintended pregnancy, 82% are currently using a contraceptive method; 59% of at-risk teens reported use of a highly effective contraceptive method."

Many young women are prescribed the pill for other medical reasons:

Adolescent girls and young women are often prescribed birth control pills for irregular or absent menstrual periods, menstrual cramps, acne, PMS, endometriosis, and for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Girls who are diagnosed with PCOS are often prescribed oral contraceptives to lower their hormone levels and regulate their menstrual periods.
Young people often need to be talked to in plain language about why their vote matters. This is one of a host of reasons, and it affects not only young women, but their male partners as well.

Many of those young women are not yet eligible to to vote, but many are eligible to pre-register. When we push for more GOTV, let's make sure we don't forget the key area of "pre-registration."  

The Brennan Center for Justice has this data as of May 27, 2014:

VRM (Voter Registration Modernization) in the States: Pre-Registration in States:

States with pre-registration laws enable young people to register as future voters, even if they won’t turn 18 before Election Day.  Voters are then automatically registered once they turn 18. Allowing future voters to pre-register before they turn 18 — for example, when they first get a driver’s license — is an important policy to ensure that every voter is registered and able to vote as soon as she is eligible.

Jurisdictions in at least 9 states — Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Rhode Island — plus the District of Columbia allow or have enacted legislation allowing 16 or 17 year-olds to pre-register to vote even if they won’t turn 18 before Election Day.

Follow me below the fold for more.

This badge was used by the New Orleans Branch NAACP and given to voters upon registration. It says
I like to point out to young people from my old neighborhoods in New York City that elections have very clear-cut consequences—for example, a change to police stop-and-frisk policies. I wrote about youth outreach and education in Whatever happened to civics?.

It isn't enough to simply say things like, "It's the Supreme Court!" What does that mean to young folks? Break it down. Show them how voting (and taking protest actions) can make a difference.

Hand in hand with the our fight in the ongoing battle against voter suppression is the much needed effort to expand our voting pool.

I remember my mom taking me behind the curtain with her and watching her pull the lever. Couldn't wait until I was big enough to do the same. Nowadays, those old polling booths don't exist anymore in many places, but hand in hand with voting, my parents taught me that our folks had died for the right to vote.

What do young folks you know care about? The environment? A free or low-cost college education? A job? An end to discrimination? A desire to be safe walking the streets?

Translate their desires into imperative reasons for voting.

GOTV 2014, 2016 ... and beyond. Pre-registration of young folks must become a key part of our electoral strategy.

Let's look at the Brennan results from Colorado:

Almost 5,000 people registered online in the system’s first three months, with one of the online bill’s sponsors, Democratic State Representative Joe Miklosi, declaring himself “absolutely thrilled” with this response. The Secretary of State’s office has provided a demographic breakdown of this group of users that reveals several notable trends.

The most striking is online registration’s popularity with younger voters. While 40 to 60 year-olds accounted for 34% of users, 17-30 year-olds accounted for 33% (17 year-olds are permitted to register if they will turn 18 before the next election). This parity is highly unusual, because younger voters usually lag far behind older ones in their rate of registration. In 2008, 18 to 30 year-olds only accounted for about 20% of registered voters nationwide, whereas 40 to 60 year-olds accounted for 40%.

Pre-registration enhances voter turnout.

In the February 2014 report published by Demos, Millions to the Polls: Practical Policies to  Fulfill the Freedom to Vote For All Americans,  there is a section on pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds:

The primary indicator of voter turnout is registration. Once registered, voters are much more likely to turn out to vote. In the last Presidential election, the overall voting rate was 61.8 percent, but over 86 percent of registered voters voted. The disparity in registration rates can be seen with young voters. In the 2008 election, only 59 percent of eligible voters between the ages of 18 to 24 were registered to vote. In contrast, 74 percent of eligible voters over the age of 24 were registered to vote.

Engaging potential voters at a young age is a successful way to increase voter registration, not just in the short term but also over a lifetime. Voters who are engaged at an early age are more likely to stay engaged. Pre-registering 16 and 17 year olds to vote can be an important first step to engaging young adults. It has also been proven to work. In 2008, pre-registered young voters in Florida turned out at a rate 4.7 percent higher than young voters who registered after turning 18.

Pre-registration does not require any additional voter registration databases. Young voters who are not yet 18 can be entered as “pending.” Once they reach 18, their registrations can automatically move from pending to active. Currently, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia allow eligible voters to pre-register at sixteen. In Colorado, anyone who is an eligible voter over the age of 16 can register to vote, even if they will not be 18 by the time of the next election. In addition, nine states allow voters to pre-register at seventeen. Adding to this, 20 states allow teens to register if they will be 18 before the next election and seven states allow teens to register if they will turn 18 before the next general election.

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has more detail:
Existing State Statutes for Pre-Registration

In all of the states listed below with the exception of Hawaii and Rhode Island, young people may register sometime before they reach the voting age of 18, provided that they will turn 18 by the next general election.  In Hawaii and Rhode Island, it is not necessary that they turn 18 by the next general election.

Alaska – within 90 days preceding 18th birthday (AS §15.07.040)
California – 17 year-olds may pre-register (CA Elec. Code §2102(d)) (NOTE: implementation is expected in 2016)
Colorado – 16 and 17-year-olds may pre-register (Colo. HB 1135, 2013)
District of Columbia – 16 and 17-year-olds may pre-register (D.C. Code § 1-1001.07(3))
Delaware – 16 and 17-year-olds may pre-register (Del. Code Ann. Tit.15, §1701(b))
Florida – 16 and 17-year-olds may pre-register (Fla. Stat. § 97.041)
Georgia – 17.5 year olds may pre-register (Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-216(c))
Hawaii – 16 year-olds may pre-register, and 17 year-olds may register but not vote (HRS §11-12)
Iowa – 17.5 years (Iowa Code Election Laws §48A.5(2)(c))
Kansas – Registrants must state that they will be 18 by the next general election (KRS §25-2306)
Louisiana – 17 year-olds may pre-register  (L.R.S.§101 A (2))
Maine– 17 year-olds may pre-register (21- M.R.S.A. §155)
Maryland – 16 year-olds may pre-register (MD Elec. Law §3-102)
Minnesota – any person who will be an eligible voter at the time of the next election may register (Minn. Stat. §201.061)
Missouri – 17.5 year olds may pre-register (Mo. Rev. Stat §115.133)
Nebraska – 17 year-olds may pre-register(Neb. Rev. Stat §32-110)
Nevada – any person who will be an eligible voter at the time of the next election may register (NRS 293.485)
North Carolina – 16 and 17-year-olds may pre-register (N.C. Gen. Stat §163-82.1)
Oregon – 17-year-olds may register but they are not allowed to vote in any election until turning 18 (ORS §247.016)
Rhode Island – 17-year-olds may register but not vote; 16 year-olds may pre-register (RI Gen. Laws §17-9.1-33)
Texas – Registration is open to those who are 17 years and 10 months old (Tex El. Code Ann § 13.001)
West Virginia – 17 year-olds may pre-register (W. Va. Code §3-2-2)
Wyoming – any person who will be 18 on the date of the general election (Wyo. Stat. §22-3-102)

NOTE: Many states do not specifically refer to 16- and 17-year-olds but do allow people to register prior to their 18th birthday, often with a proviso that they be 18 by the next general election.  Wyoming's statutory language (Wyo. Stat. §22-3-102) is typical: "A person may register to vote...He will be at least eighteen (18) years of age on the day of the next general election provided he shall not be permitted to vote until he has attained the age of eighteen (18)."  Indiana (3-7-13-1), New Jersey (N.J. Rev. Stat. §19:31-5)  and New Mexico (Section 1-4-2 NMSA 1978) have similar provisions.

NCSL is also following changes to preregistration:
In 2013, legislation either amending or eliminating existing pre-registration statutes or introducing new pre-registration practices have been introduced in 14 states in 2013, and enacted in one.

Arizona (AZ S 1033)¬ — Failed
California (CA S 113) -— Pending
Colorado (CO H 1135) -— Enacted
Connecticut (CT H 5902) -— Failed
Hawaii (HI HR 186 & HI HCR 231) — Pending/Carryover
Iowa (IA H 520/ IA SSB 1018) — Pending Carryover
Massachusetts (MA S 316
MA H 614/ MA H 617) — Pending
Michigan (MI S 260) — Pending
Nebraska (NE L 127) — Pending/ Carryover
New Jersey (NJ S 526/ NJ A 1126) — Pending
New York (NY A 187/ NY A 306/ NY S 619/ NY S 1992/ NY A 2042/ NY A 2107/ NY S 2852) — Pending
North Carolina* (HB 589) — On governor’s desk
Ohio (OH S 110) — Pending
Oregon (OR H 2988) — Failed
Texas (TX S 1507) — Failed
Washington (WA H 1279/ WA S 5270) — Pending/Carryover

*North Carolina’s bill would eliminate pre-registration

FairVote, the Center for Voting and Democracy, has a downloadable Youth Pre-Registration Fact Sheet.

The site also features a series of videos on voter registration and a section called Learning Democracy, which includes lesson plans.

FairVote’s voting curriculum, Learning Democracy, is designed to supplement traditional high school civics programs by teaching students the history and mechanics of participating in democracy. Through an innovative presentation, Learning Democracy gives students concrete examples of how and why they should increase their level of civic engagement. Learning Democracy is a peer-based curriculum taught in high schools by college or graduate students. This educational model encourages students to interact with their classmates and promotes a nontraditional classroom atmosphere. The curriculum has the potential to inspire lively discussion and to entertain and engage students in a different way than conventional civics classes.
What efforts have you made to get young folks interested in voting?

What tools or motivators would you suggest?

If your state doesn't have pre-registration for young folks, why doesn't it?

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 06:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges, Black Kos community, LatinoKos, White Privilege Working Group, Support the Dream Defenders, New Jersey Kossacks, Shamrock American Kossacks, Subversive Agitation Team Action Network, Protest Music, Street Prophets , Team DFH, and This Week in the War on Women.

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