Youth and college student voting rates have increased in recent election cycles as outreach and engagement efforts to these audiences increased significantly. But to better support youth and college student voting rates, we must recognize the importance of accessible state and local voting laws. 

Following a record-setting year for youth turnout in 2020, research shows a clear connection between a state’s voting policies and its youth and college student voting rates. As we continue to see increased engagement among young people and college students in our democratic systems, we need to ensure that voting policies are set up to support this critical voting bloc and continue its trend of growing participation. 

To achieve this end, Students Learn Students Vote Coalition partners — through the Youth Voting Rights Subcommittee — identified core policy priorities that, if equitably implemented, would ensure every eligible college student and young person can vote under fair, equitable and accessible conditions that welcome them into the democratic process, regardless of their background or location:

The right to register to vote, at home or on-campus, without any restrictive deadlines or documentation requirements, including:

  • The right to pre-register to vote starting at age 16.

  • The right to remain registered to vote, even if they miss an election.

  • The right to register to vote using easily accessible and widely available documentation.

  • The right to register to vote online without needing a specific state ID.

  • The right to same-day voter registration, without burdensome requirements or restrictions.

The right to cast a ballot without any major restrictions or barriers, including:

  • The right to choose to vote by mail for all voters.

  • The right to choose to vote early in person for all voters.

  • The right to vote regardless of past or current convictions or incarceration status.

  • The right to vote without providing photo ID.

  • The right to an open and accessible polling place.

The right to an educated and empowered vote, including:

  • The right to accurate and comprehensive civics education.
  • The right to choose representatives in fairly-drawn districts.

  • The right to access fair and accurate information about all candidates in local, state, and national elections.

  • The right to access materials in one’s preferred language.

about the youth voting rights subcommittee

Started in 2016, the Youth Voting Rights Subcommittee meets monthly to discuss youth access to voting through various lenses: public policy, informing young voters about the democratic process, and sharing tools and resources to support advocates’ efforts to expand young people’s access to the ballot. The group is organized by Campus Vote Project, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE), Rock the Vote, and the Students Learn Students Vote Coalition. The Youth Voting Rights Subcommittee meets monthly on the fourth Tuesday of every month from 3 – 4 PM ET. To join the Subcommittee, please register for our monthly meetings at this link