Too many young eligible voters are not registered to vote. FairVote proposes that all states establish a uniform voter preregistration age. Our suggested age is sixteen, as adopted in states like Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C. Other states allow voters to preregister at seventeen, including Alaska, California, Georgia (17.5 years), Iowa (17.5 years), Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri (17.5 years), Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Texas (17 years and 10 months), West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Upon reaching voting age, preregistered voters are automatically added to the voting rolls and, ideally, sent information about the mechanics of voting and the timing of the first election for which they are eligible. Evidence collected from states suggests this change will have limited or no fiscal impact, but have a direct impact on voter registration rates and participation when implemented effectively. It is part of FairVote's vision of "leave no voter behind," which includes our Learning Democracy curriculum.
What People are Saying About Preregistration
“[Florida and Hawaii] pre-register tens of thousands of eligible young people who remain on the voter rolls at rates comparable to the adult population. Pre-registration appears to have a modest positive stimulative effect on voter turnout.”
- Michael McDonald of George Mason University in 2009 report analyzing the effects of voter preregistration
“It's good politics. It's good government. It's just the thing we ought to be doing.”
- Kelda Helen Roys, Wisconsin State Representative, 2009
“Following the procedures described in the legislation, I believe we can maintain the security and integrity of our elections and provide additional access for young people to the voting process.”
-Gary Bartlett, Executive Director of the NC State Board of Elections, 2009