FairVote's John Anderson: Let's Bring Young Adults into our Democracy

Released July 7, 2006

FairVote’s chair John B. Anderson, the former presidential candidate and Republican U.S. House Member, urged Rhode Island governor Donald Carcieri to sign HB 8022. Rep. Edwin Pacheco’s legislation to allow young adults who “pre-register” to vote upon turning 16 be automatically registered to vote when they turn 18.

“We have an obligation to bring our young people smoothly into the voter rolls and introduce them to the responsibilities of citizenship,” said Congressman Anderson. “This bill is a sensible change that will make it easier for all young people to register to vote in high school, when obtaining a learner’s permit and on-line.”

Anderson and FairVote’s executive director Rob Richie had joined Rep. Pacheco, Secretary of State candidate Guillaume de Ramel and other backers of the legislation upon its introduction in the Rhode Island legislature in April. Richie and de Ramel first met and discussed the proposal at a February meeting of the National Association of Secretaries of State in Washington, D.C.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau less than 60% of American citizens aged 18-24 were registered to vote in the 2004 elections despite most of them recently having been in a high school setting.. FairVote’s Rob Richie commented, “Higher registration rates are a crucial factor in achieving greater voter participation and a more representative and efficient democracy. A pre-registration process also would go well with high school classroom presentations where students would register to vote and learn how to vote in their community. Studies show such presentations boost immediate and long-term participation of newly eligible voters.”

Rhode Island would join Hawaii as the only states to allow pre-registration, but FairVote has witnessed rapidly growing interest in the proposal in the wake of a commentary in the New York Times on April 6 by Congressman Anderson and Ray Martinez III, who is vice-chair of the Election Assistance Commission..

FairVote is a non-partisan, non-profit organization acting to transform our elections to achieve unfettered access to participation, a full spectrum of meaningful choices and majority rule with fair representation and a voice for all.

More information on the bill can be found at www.fairvote.org/righttovote. To seek comment on these issues call FairVote Communications Director Ryan O’Donnell by phone at work at (301) 270-4616, at home at (413) 335-9824 or by email at ryan@fairvote.org.