Millennials and young voters make up 31 percent of the electorate but have the lowest turnout of any age group; In a study of voter registration, 24 percent of young people cited difficulties in the process for their failing to register, saying they did not know where or how to register to vote
The Students Voicing Opinions in Today’s Elections (VOTE) Act would create a pilot program to educate high school seniors about registering to vote
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) have introduced legislation to encourage young people to vote. Millennials and young voters make up 31 percent of the electorate but have the lowest turnout of any age group. In a study of young voter registration, 24 percent of young people cited difficulties in the process for their failing to register, saying they did not know where or how to register to vote. The Students Voicing Opinions in Today’s Elections (VOTE) Act would create a pilot program to educate high school seniors about registering to vote.
“It has never been more important for young people to make their voices heard, and voting is one big way to do just that,” Klobuchar said. “Our bill would help empower high school seniors with the knowledge they need to register to vote as soon as they are eligible and make those voices count.”
“This measure engages new voters – when they are still in high school – and strengthens our democracy,” Blumenthal said. “This first of its kind pilot program will inform and inspire the youngest generation – invigorating a key demographic as we seek to engage all Americans in a truly participatory democracy. At a critical juncture in American history, our bill recognizes that our democracy is at its strongest when every voice is heard.”
“While young people make up an increasing percentage of the electorate, those numbers are not reflected at the polls,” Hirono said. “The Students VOTE Act would give schools critical resources to help new voters register and encourage young people to make their voices heard.”
Congressman Al Green (D-TX) introduced companion legislation in the House in January.
The legislation has been endorsed by Let America Vote, Rock the Vote, Common Cause, and Demos.
Specifically, the Students VOTE Act would:
- Direct the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to create a pilot program that funds initiatives by school districts and local education agencies to give high school seniors information about registering to vote.
- Invite local educational agencies to submit an application to the EAC detailing their initiative and estimated costs.
- Require funded agencies to collaborate with local election officials to ensure the information students receive is accurate.
- Dictate that funded agencies submit a report analyzing the effectiveness of their initiatives to the EAC, which will submit a report to Congress about the pilot program.
Throughout her time in the Senate, Klobuchar has been fighting to protect voting rights for all Americans. In November, she introduced the Register America to Vote Act to require every state to develop and implement a process that automatically registers eligible citizens to vote when they turn 18. She has also introduced the Helping State and Local Governments Prevent Cyber Attacks Act, which streamlines voter registration for Americans that move and increases access to online voter registration. In addition, Klobuchar and Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) have introduced the Same Day Registration Act to require states to allow people to register to vote on the same day as the election.