Since his 2012 election to the Washington state legislature, Rep. Steve Bergquist had been trying to persuade his colleagues to support a bill allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote — and requiring schools to help get them on the rolls, a move the Democratic lawmaker was sure would improve voter turnout among young people when they turned 18. There was opposition and concern: Was it an unfair burden on schools? Did it open the registration and voting process up to fraud? And wasn’t it already pretty easy to register in Washington, which has a “motor voter” law, as well as registration by mail and online? So Bergquist used his experience as a former high school social studies teacher to his advantage.
Britons are politically more divided by age than at any time over the past four decades, with a surge in support for the opposition Labour Party among younger voters the key factor in a shock election result, pollster Ipsos Mori said on Tuesday. Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May lost her parliamentary majority in the June 8 election after a lacklustre campaign during which her poll lead of 20 points or more evaporated. The Conservatives still won the largest number of House of Commons seats, but are now having to seek a deal with a small Northern Irish party to support their minority government. Ipsos Mori said age was a bigger dividing factor than in any election since it began keeping detailed records in 1979.
Arizona Rep. Bob Thorpe is getting a jump start on next year’s legislative session. His summer project? Restricting how college students vote. The Flagstaff Republican announced plans to introduce legislation next year to “address several problems with voting in Arizona’s college communities while ensuring that voting rights are preserved for all Arizona voters.” He alleges college students “unfairly influence” local elections by registering to vote using their college address, where they reside for “only six months out of the year.” That, he said, dilutes the votes of full-time residents. (And surely it has no connection to the fact that he and fellow Republicans narrowly held their seats in the district that includes Northern Arizona University.)
Arizona: Lawmaker seeks to bar college students from voting at schools they attend | Arizona Daily Star
Calling the practice unethical, a Flagstaff Republican lawmaker wants to bar college students from voting where they may live most of the year. The proposal by state Rep. Bob Thorpe would put a provision that students who want to vote would be able to do so only by signing up to get an early ballot from the voting precinct where they were living before they went to college, presumably the address of their parents. They would not be able to use their college address. And that would apply not only to those who live in a campus dormitory but even those who have off-campus residences. … A similar proposal by Thorpe introduced earlier this year died when state Rep. Doug Coleman, R-Apache Junction, refused to give it a hearing in the House Government Committee which he chairs.
Wisconsin: A City Clerk Opposed an Early-Voting Site at UW–Green Bay Because ‘Students Lean More Toward the Democrats’ | The Nation
Carly Stumpner, a junior biology major at the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay, had an hour between classes to vote during Wisconsin’s April 5 presidential primary. But when she arrived at her polling place on campus, the line stretched for two hours across the student union. She returned to the polls a second time after her classes, but the line had only grown, and Stumpner had to get to a meeting for work. She wasn’t able to vote because of the long wait times, a frustrating experience for her and many students at UWGB that day. When polls closed at 8 pm, there were still 150 students waiting to vote. “Some people described it as chaos,” reported Ellery McCardle of the local ABC affiliate. “People were standing shoulder to shoulder, there was absolutely no room to move around in here.” After the primary, leaders of eight different student groups—including the Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian parties and the Black Student Union—asked the city to put an early-voting location on campus to alleviate long lines. But city officials ignored the request and opened only one early-voting site on September 26 for the entire city—the third-largest in Wisconsin—at the clerk’s office, a 15-minute drive from campus, which is open only during business hours. City Clerk Kris Teske, an appointee of Republican Mayor Jim Schmitt, a close ally of Governor Scott Walker, said the city didn’t have the money, time, or security to open an early-voting location on campus or anywhere else.
Young potential voters who have migrated abroad in search of work are facing the loss of their voting rights due to a lack of information and documents required to register to vote from a location different to their registered address, civil society groups said yesterday. During a workshop on “The Challenges and Solutions: Voter Registration for Youth,” in Phnom Penh, Yong Kim Eng, president of the People Center for Development and Peace (PDP-Center) said that according to their data, many youths were unaware of how to register to vote in next year’s commune elections. “Youths are more than half of the country’s citizens, some of whom are migrants working in foreign countries and are facing the loss of their right to vote if they do not go to register. This is a concern as there might be a problem for the democratic process if the youth do not participate.”
Students at Rollins College in Florida are designing custom “I voted” stickers for absentee voters. Across the country, the University of Southern California has partnered with county officials to host voter registration events with prizes, games and free food. And at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the student government plans campuswide voter registration drives as well. Across the country, groups and organizations promoting civic engagement among college students have spent hundreds — if not thousands — of hours trying to galvanize this large, yet often elusive group of potential voters. The Campus Vote Project, one of the most prominent college voter outreach groups, has launched an initiative to establish “voter-friendly” campuses. So far, more than 90 institutions, including Rollins College, have agreed to commit to things such as hosting voter registration drives, inviting candidates to speak or offering rides to the polls to increase voter education, registration and mobilization. Why go to the trouble of recruiting college voters? College students have the potential to influence elections. There were 17.3 million undergraduate students enrolled in degree-granting postsecondary institutions in 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Experts predict that population will increase to 19.8 million by 2025.
Last month the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit overturned the 2013 omnibus elections bill passed by North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature, which voting rights advocates referred to as a “monster” voter suppression law. The law contained dozens of provisions, some of which the court found intentionally discriminated against African Americans. It was passed shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively struck down the section of the Voting Rights Act requiring jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination to get Justice Department preclearance for election law changes. North Carolina waited 17 days after the 4th Circuit’s ruling to file an “emergency” appeal with U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, asking him to stay parts of the ruling, including those striking the photo ID requirement and expanding early voting from 10 to 17 days. The state also asked for a stay on reinstating a program approved in 2009 with bipartisan support that allowed 16- and 17-year-olds to preregister to vote.
As Japan’s newly enfranchised teen voters make up their minds ahead of the July 10 House of Councillors election, the country’s political parties are taking their online campaign videos beyond the mundane to appeal to the youth vote. Since internet campaigning was legalized in 2013, parties’ online election campaign videos have tended to be limited to footage of leaders’ public speeches or press conferences. But with approximately 2.4 million new voters aged 18 and 19 joining the electorate in time for the upper house race after the voting age was lowered from 20, the parties are exploring new territory as they vie to become a familiar presence on young people’s smartphones.
Canada: Young voter turnout jumped sharply in 2015 contest, Elections Canada reports | The Canadian Press
Elections Canada says the turnout of young voters in last October’s election was up sharply from 2011. The agency says voter participation among those aged 18 to 24 rose by 18.3 percentage points to 57.1 per cent, up from 38.8 per cent in 2011. That’s the biggest jump for that age group since the agency began tracking demographic data in 2004. Among those eligible to vote for the first time, the percentage was 58.3 per cent. The official turnout rate overall was 68.3 per cent, with voters age 65 to 74 recording a 78.8 per cent participation rate. Voter participation on aboriginal reserves was also up, with 61.5 per cent of registered voters casting ballots, up 14 points from 2011, the agency says.
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is hoping a large proportion of the 955,000 eligible people not enrolled to vote by April 30 got on the electoral roll before it closed last night. A large proportion of those not enrolled were are aged between 18 and 24. According to AEC estimates, 347,264 young people were missing from the…
It’s a refrain commonly heard in modern elections—“young people don’t vote.” And the truth of the matter is that youths are not voting at the same rates as their elders. In 2014, turnout for 18 to 29-year-olds reached record lows of 16 percent, according to the U.S. Elections Project. That’s compared to turnout for older age brackets consistently above 30 percent (youth hit record high turnout in 2008 of 48 percent). This begs the question: What can states do to engage young people in the electoral process? No silver bullet exists, but states have taken a variety of bipartisan steps to reach out to their younger residents. We’ll consider whether these legislative options really make a difference: Preregistration for youth, Allowing 17-year-olds to vote in primaries, Lowering the voting age. Preregistration for 16-and-17-year olds has gained traction recently. Preregistration involves permitting those under the age of 18 to register to vote. Typically, those youth are placed into a pending status in the voter registration database and then changed to active status when they turn 18. This definition, however, isn’t consistent across every state and the way states treat these voters varies greatly.
The president of the organisation Vanuatu Youth Against Corruption, Priscilla Meto, says more than 70 percent of people who turned 18 after the last election in 2012 will be unable to vote on Friday. She says this is because the nature of the snap election means the Electoral Commission has been unable to issue new electoral cards to many of those people. Ms Meto says this is unfair as it means more than 3,000 young people will not be able to exercise their right to vote, and will have to wait until 2020 to be heard. “It will be very unfair because most of the youth will not be casting their vote to participate in this election to show what they want during this snap election.”
North Carolina: Ex-College Democrats president: Election law intimidated college students | Winston-Salem Journal
The former president of the state chapter of the College Democrats testified today that North Carolina’s new election law made it much more difficult for college students to vote. Louis Duke, a graduate of Campbell University in Harnett County, took the witness stand in a closely watched trial in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem. Several groups, including the N.C. NAACP and the U.S. Department of Justice, are suing the state and Gov. Pat McCrory over House Bill 589, which became law in August 2013. The law eliminated same-day voter registration, reduced the days of early voting from 17 to 10 and prohibited out-of-precinct provisional voting, among other things. Duke said that after the law, known as the Voter Information Verification Act, was passed, many students across North Carolina were confused and misinformed about what the law required. Duke said he helped organize voter registration drives for college students. The elimination of same-day voter registration made such efforts more difficult because there was a shorter amount of time to get students registered, Duke said. In North Carolina, the deadline to register to vote is 25 days before the election.
In a rebuke of fellow Republicans, Gov. John Kasich used his line-item veto authority today to kill language that would have targeted out-of-state college students who register to vote in Ohio to quickly obtain in-state licenses and vehicle registrations. The governor let stand a new portion of the law requiring new Ohio residents to get an updated license and registration within 30 days. But he stripped out the measure linking that provision with voting registration. The Dispatch reported today that state officials could not say how the voting requirement would have been enforced. Democrats and voting-rights activists had lobbied the governor’s office to veto the measure, contending it would discourage students from voting if they had to obtain Ohio documentation within 30 days of registering to vote.
The transportation budget bill that the General Assembly has sent Gov. John Kasich includes a noxious amendment that would discourage out-of-state college students from voting in Ohio. The governor should veto this irresponsible provision before he signs the bill. The Republican-controlled state Senate inserted the provision without public hearings or much debate. It would require people who want to vote in Ohio to get in-state driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations no later than 30 days after they register to vote. That mandate requires would-be voters to incur costs of $75 or more; violators could face criminal charges. The provision would particularly affect the 100,000-plus out-of-state students who attend Ohio colleges and universities.
The North Dakota House defeated a bill Wednesday that would have required the state’s colleges and universities to provide student identification cards that could be used to vote. Senate Bill 2330, sponsored by Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, would have required photo identification cards provided by the universities to include the student’s residential address and birth date. The bill failed 28-63 after sailing through the Senate 46-0 last month. The presidents of North Dakota State University and Dickinson State University opposed the bill in a committee hearing in early March, arguing that it would put students at risk because the IDs are used as keycards for residence halls and students tend to lose them.
A new survey from North Dakota State University found that about 3 percent of North Dakota college students who tried to vote in November’s election “were unable to participate due to confusion over residency requirements.” The survey, conducted by the Upper Midwest Regional Center on Public Policy at NDSU and released Tuesday, comes after the North Dakota Legislature eliminated the voter affidavit option in 2013, which allowed someone to cast a ballot without proper identification. IDs had to reflect the voter’s current precinct 30 days before the November election in order to vote there. Almost 93 percent of survey respondents who tried to vote were successful. Out of the 79 students surveyed who tried to vote but were unsuccessful, 36 reported some issue related to their residential address, while others had issues related to absentee ballots or other issues.
A left-leaning town in southern Vermont is taking up on Tuesday a referendum to extend the right to vote in local elections to teenagers as young as 16, but even if the measure passes it would still require the state legislature’s approval. The so-called “youth vote amendment” would lower the minimum voting age in Brattleboro, a town of about 12,000 people, to 16 from its current 18, the age minimum for state and federal elections. The amendment is part of slate of proposals being considered on Tuesday as part of Brattleboro’s annual town meeting.
A researcher looking at internet voting says older Sudburians were more likely to use the internet to cast a ballot in the last municipal elections. Sudbury was one of 47 Ontario municipalities to use the internet in the October vote for mayor and council. The research director at the Centre for E-Democracy in Toronto said the results of questionnaires show more than half of internet voters in Sudbury in October were older — between 45 and 64 years old. Only 15 per cent were 34 years old and younger.
Michigan teens would be able to pre-register to vote under a proposal in Lansing. The measure would allow 16 and 17 year olds to fill out their voter registration paperwork when they get their driver’s licenses. The state would mail their voter cards when they turn 18. “It’s another way of making government much more efficient,” said state Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren. “It saves people in lines at secretary of state offices. It saves more correspondence going to the secretary of state’s office. It makes it a much easier process.”
United Kingdom: Number of 18-year-olds registered to vote in the election crashes by half following changes to the electoral roll | This is Money
The number of 18-year-olds registered to vote fell by almost half last year following changes to the electoral roll registration system. The dramatic fall, revealed by credit checking company Experian, sparked warnings from student groups that young people will be under-represented at the upcoming election. Experian obtains electoral roll data from local authorities when it checks credit applications. Analysis of this showed the number of ‘coming of age’ voters – those who turned 18 in previous year – steadily rising in the years since the last election, but then suffering a 47 per cent fall between 2013 and 2014. There were 511,352 18-year-olds registered to vote in December 2013, but this fell to just 272,995 last year. This pushed the total voter population into reverse as well. There were 41,692,818 people registered to vote in the UK in December compared to 42,709,134 in the same month the year before – a 2.4 per cent fall.
Four Texas lawmakers are making voter turnout among college students a priority by proposing bills that would make university-issued ID cards an acceptable form of voter ID. The bills, filed in both the House and Senate by Rep. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg), Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin), Sen. Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio) and Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin), would allow students to present a university-issued photo ID as a valid form of voter ID. Watson said his bill, if passed, would make voting more convenient for students. “Those in control of the Capitol have created unnecessary burdens for folks who don’t already have an acceptable form of ID to vote,” Watson said in an email to the Texan. “This is an easy way to begin removing those burdens.”
Coming soon to a battleground state near you: White House campaigns combining census reports with Instagram and Twitter posts to target teenagers who aren’t yet 18 but will be by Election Day 2016. It’s an aggressive strategy with an obvious reward. More than eight million people will become legal adults eligible to vote for the first time by the next general election. Campaigns are eager to find ways to get through to these 16- and 17-year-olds who are still minors and, in most cases, more likely to be concerned with making it to class on time than who should be elected president. “It’s got to be the right candidate with the right message to excite and motivate that age demographic, with so many distractions in their life, to register, and then turn out,” said Vincent Harris, digital director for Rand Paul’s political operation.
This month, the Illinois General Assembly passed a sweeping voting rights bill that brings our state’s antiquated election system into the 21st century. The landmark legislation means voting will now be a simple, high-integrity process, so all eligible Illinoisans have a voice in our democracy. Yet the bigger story is what the success of SB 172 portends for Illinois’ rising reform movement. The bill never would made it through the legislature without strong support from the diverse, nonpartisan Just Vote coalition, which mobilized people across the state to help move the common-sense election reform package forward. Just Vote represents a unique approach to political reform. In the past, good government groups often fell short because they failed to bring young people and communities of color to the table, or (worse) intentionally excluded them.
There were winners and losers in the Scottish referendum. Alex Salmond may have led the losers but 16- and 17-year-olds took gold. The yes supporters may have been bitterly disappointed by the result, but first-time voters for both sides relished the opportunity to flex their electoral muscle. That’s why, as an English 16-year-old, I am left wondering why I can’t have a vote in the next general election in May 2015. Thankfully, change may be in the air. At this year’s Labour conference Ed Miliband said “It’s time to hear the voice of young people in our politics” and that he needs the “hope, energy [and] vitality” associated with our youth. It’s good to hear a political leader calling out to my generation – and not just hustling for votes. At my age I can buy a lottery ticket, have sex, drive a moped and leave school. So why am I responsible enough to have a baby or win the lottery, but not old enough to vote? The social contract that governs our society says we should have no rights without responsibilities, but we teenagers have lots of responsibilities without the precious right to vote.
The last-minute reinstatement of Wisconsin’s voter ID restrictions could create voting problems for over 32,000 students attending state universities. University-issued ID cards from most public universities will not be accepted as proof of identification at the polls, and tens of thousands of students will have to go through additional hurdles before election day if they want to exercise their right to vote. University students tend to vote for Democrats, and the voter ID law was pushed by Republican legislators. The impact on students is one other ripple in the shockwave that the 7th Circuit sent across Wisconsin last week, when a panel of appellate judges — all appointed by Republican presidents — reinstated Wisconsin’s voter ID law just seven weeks before election day. Federal district Judge Lynn Adelman had blocked the law in April as unconstitutional and violative of the Voting Rights Act. More than 32,000 students from out of state attend public universities in Wisconsin, and are eligible to vote in the state, yet cannot use a driver’s license from their home state to vote in November. Until the 7th Circuit’s decision last week, out-of-state students had little reason to spend the time and money to obtain a Wisconsin ID card.
The 16- and 17-year-olds who voted in Scotland’s referendum didn’t determine the outcome. The margin of victory for the “yes” vote was larger than their total number of votes. But they did make a strong case to the rest of the world for a lower voting age. The U.K.’s voting age is 18, but Scottish Nationalist Party leader Alex Salmond struck a deal to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to participate in the referendum, believing it would benefit the “yes” vote. It was a logical calculation: Support for independence was highest among those under 30. Pre-election polls and surveys, however, suggested that voters under 18 were narrowly divided and leaning the other way. Kids today. So conservative. If Salmond had gotten his wish, and the vast majority of 16- and 17-year olds had voted for independence, conservatives at home and abroad would have tut-tutted that they were too young to know what they were doing. By not voting as a bloc, and by largely mirroring societal attitudes, the young Scots knocked down the image of young voters as radicals. In doing so, they gave a big boost to the argument that 16-year-olds can responsibly participate in the democratic process — and to a nascent international movement to lower voting ages.
Students in Texas have a question for their state lawmakers: Why us? In September, they’ll get to pose that question in court. Over the last year, laws that advocates say place unnecessary burdens on voters have advanced across the country. But a law in Texas is causing a particular stir due to its potential to place the harshest burdens on the youngest voters. A lawsuit challenging it that was filed last year goes to trial Sept. 2. “We work to engage people—young people—in this process,” said Christina Sanders, state director of the Texas League of Young Voters, which is among the plaintiffs in an upcoming voter identification case in the state. “The hurdles these laws create makes it more difficult for us to engage.” “More than cases of apathy, it becomes a case of disenfranchisement,” she added.
Last September, Saffron Dickson, then 15 years old (now “16 and three-quarters”), attended a televised BBC debate in Glasgow on the subject of the upcoming Scottish referendum. Partway through the show, the host opened the floor to comments—and Dickson shot for the mike. Smiling saucily for the cameras, in bleached-blond hair and a dark leather jacket, she gave the people of Scotland an earful: “We don’t live in a country where we have equal rights,” she cried, raising a furious hand to the sky. “Westminster bakes the Empire Biscuit and we put the jelly tot on top. And we’re supposed to be completely ecstatic about having that little bit of power. But we won’t be silenced by your ideology!” Within weeks, Dickson had become “a wee bit” of a political celebrity in Scotland, which is now less than two months away from a historic referendum on independence from Britain. Today, Dickson is on the central board of Generation Yes, a large pro-independence youth movement, and a regular media fixture. Asked whether she hopes to run for office one day, she’s emphatic: “Yes!”