( – promoted by DocHoc)
The Project Vote Blog had an interesting piece that turned my head this week about the voter registration rate this past election.
After all of the work we did – we meaning the folks at CREDO who developed the online voter registration widget Rock the Vote and many others used. The in person voting HeadCount did, and the thousands of other people affiliated with hundreds of campaigns and groups across the country, we had a net gain of about 1% in voter registration according to Project Vote’s findings (PDF).
Not to belittle 1%, its actually quite good when you look at the numbers, and when we look at some of the states where elections were very close I can guarantee that those new voters made a difference. Still, there needs to be a new way that we work to cultivate new registrants that garners higher results.
“While measures to provide voter registration or voter education opportunities for voting eligible Americans are important, three states have taken a step beyond by moving legislation to not only address the issue of standardizing the voter registration system, but to engage the future of America before they reach the age of 18” says Project Vote.
Hawaii and Florida are the only two states that currently offer such a registration option. In April, however, Project Vote reported other states are developing legislation for similar laws allowing pre-registration to 16 year olds. It might be easier, their blog says, to engage youth in high school and at the DMV.
“In the last few weeks, legislators passed preregistration bills through at least one chamber in California (AB 30), Michigan (HB 4261 and HB 4337), and North Carolina (HB 1260). The Michigan and North Carolina bills have been assigned to their respective Senate committees while the California bill awaits its final reading on the Senate floor. Passage of the California bill is thought to be most significant due to its growing and diverse population, particularly among its young residents.”
They’re right, one of the biggest problems we have as a movement is targeting non-college youth because there is no central location that connects with them. The closest org I think that comes close is HeadCount who walks the entrance lines at concerts and asks people to register. You’re getting college and non-college youth, but primarily concert goers and festival lovers. My kind of voters, but still not a broad selection.
High school programs are few and far between, many high school students aren’t 18 so it seems like a smaller population from which to choose. The difference is… all of them will be 18. With laws in place that allow early registration, high school outreach could have a huge success rate to ensure youth are registered when they turn 18.
SAVE has worked with members of Congress and the Senate to pass the Student Voter Opportunity to Encourage Registration (VOTER) Act which was introduced in the US Senate today by Sen. Dick Derbin (D-IL). According to yesterday’s release:
The Act “will require all colleges and universities that receive federal funds to provide their students with an opportunity to register to vote as they “enroll in a course of study.”
“Many students are first-time voters and are often unfamiliar with how to register to vote. Our bill would make registering to vote as simple as registering for class,” said Senator Durbin. “Making voter registration more accessible will remove one burden preventing young people from getting involved in our democracy.”
Texas recently passed interesting legislation that would require each high school principal to designate four people as deputy registrars.
According to the bill HB1654
“The four deputies could be either employees of the high school or employees of the school district in which the high school was located and who were serving at the high school. At least three of the four would have to be classroom teachers or certified full-time counselors.”
State and Federal leaders along with many organizations across the country are working on many different levels to fix what is a continuous problem in American Elections. To monitor preregistration and other election bills, visit www.electionlegislation.org. To continue to watch federal legislation for the VOTER Act stay tuned to SAVE