Eliminating Preregistration Makes the Youth Vote Disappear

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One of the lesser talked about provisions that lawmakers snuck into the voter suppression law did away with voter preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds. Preregistration engages teenagers to fulfill their civic duty and, according to a new study, increases voter turnout. This change is suppressing the youth voice in politics and will undermine the democratic process.

From the Raleigh News & Observer:

Debate over North Carolina’s restrictive new voting laws has focused on how a photo ID requirement suppresses turnout by lower-income voters. But a new study by two Duke scholars casts light on the effect of another change imposed by Republican lawmakers – the elimination of preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds.

The study conducted by John B. Holbein, a doctoral student in political science, and D.D. Sunshine Hillygus, a political science professor, found that preregistration increased the turnout of voters between the ages of 18 and 22.

Holbein said by email of North Carolina’s elimination of preregistration, “It’s unfortunate that North Carolina officials have chosen to remove such an exemplary public policy. Doing so will make it more difficult to get young people in the state, who are traditionally much less engaged in the democratic process than older citizens, to fulfill their role as active citizens.”


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