July 5, 2008

5 simple ways to increase the youth vote

Posted in election day registration, Election reform, Elections, Maryland voting, politics, Uncategorized, voter registration, voting, youth vote tagged , , , , , at 12:01 pm by bluebanshee

Much ado is made about the increased participation of the 18-25 demographic in this year’s election but their participation still lags behind that of other age groups.  Here are several ways to change election law to make their participation easier.

  • Give the office of school guidance counselor in public secondary schools legal status as a designated voter registration agency.  That way the voter registration forms can be handed out to students while they are signing up for their class schedule.  Then the forms can be sent from the school guidance counselor to the election office.  (Louisiana just passed H. 990 to make this happen in that state)
  • Allow 16 and 17-year-olds to pre-register so that they are automatically registered to vote when they reach their 18th birthday.  If high school juniors and seniors get their paperwork completed well in advance they will be ready and able vote when the next election rolls around. (Rhode Island just passed the “Youth Voting Bill,”  H 7106 and S 2081and sent it to the governor for signature)
  • Allow 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the General Election to also vote in the Spring Primary Election.  This way their voice can be heard during a contested party primary when excitement is high and they are motivated to participate in support of their candidate.  Maryland already has made this a part of their election law, largely because of the efforts of a 17-year-old student who wanted to vote for Barack Obama.
  • Allow all voters, including high school and college students, to register to vote up until the close of polls on Election Day.  Young people are often in transition during the run-up to election day — starting college, moving to a new city, starting a new job — and often do not pay attention to an upcoming election until the deadline for voter registration has passed.  A handful of states (Wisconsin, Maine, New Hampshire and Minnesota) already allow Election Day Registration — and report the highest voter turnout numbers in the country coupled with virtually no problems with voter fraud.
  • Allow high school juniors and seniors to work at the polls.  If students can be appointed as official poll workers two problems can be solved at once — greater involvement by high schoolers in the electoral process — and trained replacements for the current crop of aging poll workers, whose median age is in the 70’s in most jurisdictions.  (in Rhode Island, H 7833, which allows high school juniors and seniors to be appointed as election officials, has been sent to the governor for signature)

Rock the Vote, Project Vote and similar voter registration outreach efforts have done outstanding work but are frequently hampered by state election laws.  If the five simple changes recommended above were to be enacted in all 50 states, their job would be much easier because they would be filling a much smaller gap and we would not have so much handwringing about the low rate of participation by the 18-25 year old demographic.


  1. […] 5 simple ways to increase the youth vote « Voting Matters Blog […]

  2. Hi,

    I’ve come across your website a couple times in my Google Alerts and wanted to point you to my own blog, Future Majority (www.futuremajority.com). It focuses on young voters in politics, and specifically the work of youth organizations to get young people to the polls and to fight for their policy agenda.

    We recently finished a redesign and turned on user-blogs, so any registered user can now post their own blogs just like on Daily Kos, MyDD, or any other major political community blog. I’d like to invite you to register and cross-post some of your blogs there. I think you’ll find that we have a highly influential audience and that the signal to noise ratio is much greater than on the “A-List” sites, so it is much easier to get your ideas heard. We also have live-blogs with congressional and senate (state and federal) candidates every week or so, and with far less traffic than on a site like Daily Kos, it’s much easier to talk to them and get your thoughts heard and questions answered.

    Anway, I dig your blog and hope you’ll join us over at Future Majority,


  3. Betsy said,

    These are interesting ideas. In my county, some very important elections have been decided by the youth vote.

  4. […] – bookmarked by 5 members originally found by peacay on 2008-08-12 5 simple ways to increase the youth vote https://votingmatters.wordpress.com/2008/07/05/5-simple-ways-to-increase-the-youth-vote/ – […]

  5. sandrar said,

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: