FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Representative Nikema Williams (GA-05) reintroduced 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. Since the bill was first introduced we have seen an uptick in states targeting young people and students with voter suppression, including bills that remove student IDs as acceptable voter ID, would prohibit the placement of voting sites on college and university campuses, and more, making it an even greater imperative to enact this legislation and continue the progress envisioned in the adoption of the 26th Amendment.
If passed, this bill would help fulfill the promise of the 26th Amendment and remove these 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: “Young people need to be welcomed into our democracy. 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. Congress must 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.”
Clarissa Unger, Executive Director of the Students Learn Students Vote Coalition said: “We applaud Congresswoman Nikema Williams for championing young people by reintroducing the Youth Voting Rights Act. This legislation, if passed, would codify important protections for our youngest generation of voters at a time when their democratic rights are under threat. It also signals to the nation that the cause of young voters is a key part of the renewed push for civil rights.”
“Young voters have turned out in record-breaking numbers in recent elections. In response, we've seen states propose and pass legislation that drastically impacts the student voting process,” said Jen Domogal-Goldman, Executive Director of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. “The reintroduction of the Youth Voting Rights Act is crucial to ensure that every young person can make their voices heard at the ballot box. ALL IN applauds the work of Senator Warren and Congresswoman Williams to advocate for young voters nationwide.”
“Rock the Vote enthusiastically supports the Youth Voting Rights Act. Empowering young voters at the ballot box is not just a choice, but a testament to our belief in a democracy where every voice matters. This comprehensive legislation aims to dismantle the unique barriers young people face registering and exercising their freedom to vote. This is an obvious and necessary step toward building a stronger democracy.”- Carolyn DeWitt, President & Executive Director
"The Civics Center is grateful to Representative Williams and Senator Warren for championing the rights of young voters," said Laura W. Brill, founder and CEO of The Civics Center. "High school students deserve a smooth on-ramp to democracy, and the Youth Voting Rights Act will go a long way to removing the most challenging obstacles they face today."
Laura Miller, Interim Executive Director of When We All Vote said, "Every eligible American, including young people, should be able to freely exercise their right to vote. Young people already face significant barriers to registering to vote and casting a ballot, and their freedom to vote remains under attack from state legislatures across the country. The latest attempts from cynical lawmakers to ban student ID cards as a form of voter identification, close early voting sites on college campuses and in big cities, and curb mail-in voting are just another form of voter suppression. That’s why it is critical that Congress pass the Youth Voting Rights Act, which includes vital protections that will help young people, especially Black, Brown and LGBTQIA+ youth who have historically been left out of our political process, make their voices heard at the ballot box."
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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.
The Civics Center is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing voter registration to every high school in America. We provide free training and resources for students and educators to run twice-yearly drives at their schools, and use data to identify areas of need and show results. With 4 million turning 18 and becoming eligible to vote every year, their numbers are meaningful. And with 70% living in states where they are able to preregister at 16 or 17, high school is the time and place to get it done. Our work has led to thousands of registrations and student-led registration drives at high schools across the country.
Rock the Vote is the most trusted and effective 501c3 nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to building the political power of young people, drawing on decades of experience to deploy the most effective and impactful messages, tactics, and technology to uplift and empower the largest, most diverse generation in U.S. history. Rock the Vote pioneers innovative ways to make democratic participation more accessible and defends young people’s right to vote.
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.