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During the 2015 legislative session, JCA led coordinated statewide campaign to pass voter pre-registration. While it did not pass, it was an incredible opportunity for our Seeds of Justice fellows to organize, meet with their legislators, and build strong bipartisan support at the capitol, and we are proud to bring it back for the 2016 legislative session.

This piece of bipartisan legislation would enable Minnesotans to pre-register to vote at age 17. 22 states currently have some form of voter pre-registration. States including Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Rhode Island and West Virginia have established a bright line that allows 17-year-olds (and in some cases 16-year-olds) to pre-register. Our Seeds of Justice youth fellows are taking the lead on this campaign.

Facts About Voter Pre-Registration
  • In 2008, fewer than half of eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 24 registered, a rate 22% lower than in the general population (Project Vote). Voter turnout is especially low in low income communities and communities of color.

  • A forthcoming study found that, in states that have implemented pre-registration, youth voter turnout is 13% higher (“Making Young Voters,” American Journal of Political Science). This is true of both Republican and Democrat voters – voter pre-registration is politically unbiased and boosts young voter turnout for all parties and communities.

  • Data shows that citizens who are engaged in the political process when they are young are more likely to vote later in life (“Becoming a Habitual Voter,” American Political Science Review). By allowing young people to pre-register at 16, voter registration could be integrated into existing high school civics curriculum, increasing opportunities to develop a stronger level of engagement.

  • Most systems are already capable of handling pre-registration but labeling them as ‘pending’ registrations that will automatically become ‘active’ when the registrant turns 18. Small costs such as updating registration materials are already a part of the Secretary of State’s budget. There will be no fiscal note for this legislation, and no additional cost to Minnesotans. 

  • Pre-registration poses absolutely no threat to the data privacy of minors. While voter registration information is part of the public record, pre-registered voters’ information, including address and phone number would remain private until their registrations became ‘active’ on their 18th birthday.

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