Gov. O’Malley Urged to Sign Bill to Provide Preregistration to Teen Citizens

Cross-posted at Project Vote's blog, Voting Matters

Last week, the Maryland General Assembly passed a bill to allow 16-year olds to preregister to vote. If signed by the governor, Maryland will join Florida, Hawaii, North Carolina, and Rhode Island in enacting this important reform.

Project Vote was pleased to lend our voice to the chorus of support for this bill, and we congratulate the Maryland Assembly and all our colleagues who advocated for its passage, including FairVote, Common Cause Maryland, the Maryland League of Women Voters, and Maryland PIRG.

The bill received unanimous support out of committee in the Senate and ultimately passed the House 97-43. Gov. Martin O’Malley has until June 1 to sign the bill into law.

"This is a big victory for democracy," said Senate bill sponsor, Sen. Jamie Raskin in a recent Common Cause Maryland press release. "I’ve been fighting for a standard voter registration age since I was elected so that 16 or 17 year olds all over the state will know that they should register to vote before they leave school. With this legislation, we can now register young people before they graduate and are off into the work force or to college or the military.

"Democracy works best when everybody participates," he said.

The growing trend towards preregistration is an exciting one. As we discuss in our recent legislative brief, Expanding the Youth Electorate through Preregistration, research shows that preregistration policies targeting 16- and 17-year-old citizens not only help to increase civic participation among young people--who remain dramatically underrepresented at the polls--but may also enfranchise a broader range of America's youth, particularly those from historically underrepresented populations.

Tuesday, Project Vote wrote a letter urging Governor O’Malley to sign the preregistration bill.

"We hope this trend continues, and more states recognize that, with just a simple, inexpensive adjustment in the administration of elections, they can not only empower the current generation of young people but also help reduce historical disparities in the electorate for future generations," said Project Vote executive director, Michael Slater.

Tags: election reform, preregistration, voter registration, Maryland, Voting Rights, Youth Voting (all tags)

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