WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Representative Nikema Williams (GA-05) introduced the Youth Voting Rights Act, which includes major legislative proposals that would significantly expand registration and voting access for college students and other young people.
Students today face unique and difficult barriers to registration and voting, due to limited access, opportunities, and infrastructure that would make voting accessible for them. If passed, this bill would help fulfill the promise of the 26th Amendment and remove those barriers and restrictions by:
- Expanding legal enforcement of the 26th Amendment, which granted 18 year-olds the right to vote, in the courts;
- Requiring public colleges and universities to provide voter registration services;
- Requiring states to create a pre-registration process for federal elections starting at 16 years of age, allowing states to optionally implement pre-registration for people younger than 16;
- Codifying students’ rights to vote from their campus addresses;
- Requiring public colleges and universities to set up a polling place for all federal elections;
- Guaranteeing that student ID is accepted as voter ID where required;
- Creating a $26 million grant program for youth involvement in elections;
- Gathering data on youth voter registration and participation.
The bill is being endorsed by leading youth voting rights advocates and organizations across the country. They issued the following statements:
Mike Burns, National Director of the Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project, said: “The provisions of this bill would be transformative. College students and other young people are a critical, yet overlooked, part of our democracy, and it’s essential that legislation like this, which significantly expands their access to registration and voting, is swiftly passed. Young people need on-ramps to civic life and to be welcomed into our democracy. It is incumbent on elected officials in Congress to live up to the ideals of American democracy and fulfill the promise we made over 50 years ago when the country adopted the 26th Amendment.”
Bobby Hoffman, Deputy Director of the ACLU Democracy Division said: “The ACLU is proud to support the Youth Voting Rights Act. Voting is a fundamental right in our democracy and it must never be infringed. Young people face serious obstacles when registering to vote and casting a ballot. We must do all we can to ensure young people have unrestricted access to the ballot box, especially given the upcoming federal elections.”
Clarissa Unger, Executive Director of the Students Learn Students Vote Coalition said: “The Youth Voting Rights Act is a massive step toward ensuring every young person has easy and equal access to participating in our democracy, and its passage would be a historic victory for democracy. The work of making voting more accessible for young people belongs to all three branches of the federal government as well as institutions of higher learning throughout the country. We applaud Senator Warren and Representative Williams for leading Congress’ efforts to expand youth voting access and look forward to working with them alongside the Biden-Harris Administration to enact the measures outlined in the bill.”
Jen Domagal-Goldman, Executive Director of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge said, “Young voters are a critical part of the electorate, but too often face barriers to casting their ballot. The Youth Voting Rights Act will help ensure that young voters, including those on college campuses, can make their voices heard. ALL IN applauds Senator Warren and Congresswoman Williams for their work to expand voting access and we look forward to working alongside them to make sure that young people can participate in each and every election.”
Stephanie Young, Executive Director of When We All Vote said, “In 2020, we saw the highest youth voter turnout in history, and yet, more than half of all young voters did not cast a ballot. The Youth Voting Rights Act will help break down the structural barriers that prevent young people from making their voices heard. This is a big step forward in our work to build an informed and engaged electorate for today and generations to come.”
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Fair Elections Center is a national, nonpartisan and non-profit voting rights and election reform organization based in Washington, D.C. which uses litigation, public education and advocacy to remove barriers to registration and voting, particularly those disenfranchising underrepresented and marginalized communities, and to improve election administration. Its non-partisan Campus Vote Project works to institutionalize students’ civic engagement into the academic mission of colleges and universities.
The SLSV Coalition is the national hub and the largest nonpartisan network in the country of campus, nonprofit, community, student, and philanthropic leaders who help student voters get more involved in our democracy. SLSV supports campuses by facilitating collaborations across national, state, and local organizations, coordinating national programs and campaigns, and distributing resources that go directly to local leaders in their communities.
ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge empowers colleges and universities to achieve excellence in nonpartisan student democratic engagement on more than 900 campuses nationwide. ALL IN works to improve civic learning, political engagement, and voter participation through an intentionally-designed program that provides structure, support, and recognition. ALL IN believes higher education should play a role in developing an active and informed citizenry by educating students, motivating them to engage in American democracy, and instilling the value of lifelong participation. ALL IN is a national, nonpartisan initiative of Civic Nation.
When We All Vote is a national, nonpartisan initiative on a mission to change the culture around voting and to increase participation in each and every election by working to close the race and age voting gap. Created in 2018 by Michelle Obama, When We All Vote brings together individuals, institutions, brands, and organizations to register new voters across the country and advance civic education for the entire family and voters of every age to build an informed and engaged electorate for today and generations to come. We empower our supporters and volunteers to take action through voting, advocating for their rights, and holding their elected officials accountable. When We All Vote is an initiative of Civic Nation.