RELEASE: Automatic Voter Registration Is a Win For Millennials And Our Country’s Democracy As a Whole

          

Click here to watch livestream or RSVP to CAP’s event with Secretaries of State from California and Rhode Island, as well as voting rights activists, Attacks and Advances in Voter Registration, today from 9:00 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.

Washington, D.C. — As America’s largest, most diverse generation, Millennials face a unique set of socioeconomic barriers keeping them from realizing their full political voice. While Millennials make up over one-third of the eligible voter population, only half cast ballots in 2016. At the same time, voting rights are being suppressed and manipulated here at home, compounding the many structural hurdles already keeping young people from voting and participating in our nation’s democracy. Today, a new report from the Center for American Progress, Generation Progress, and the Alliance for Youth Action offers a portrait of how automatic voter registration (AVR) systems would especially benefit young people by increasing voter access, while making our voting system more secure and efficient.

AVR, the report argues, is a commonsense effort to ensure an efficient, inclusive, and secure voter registration system for the modern era. The new analysis found that obstacles in the voter registration system have a substantial impact on hindering participation amongst young people, who are highly transient and less familiar with arcane voting rules. The report uses Oregon’s implementation of AVR—the first such system in the nation— as a working case study on how to increase youth voter registration and turnout.

“At a time when America’s electoral system is being threatened by President Trump’s sham voter commission and undermined by Russian interference, we need strong solutions that ensure the security and accuracy of our voting rolls, while increasing voter access for all eligible Americans,” said Liz Kennedy, director of Democracy and Government Reform at the Center for American Progress. “Millennials—who are the future of this country— represent the largest and most diverse generation. They need to have a voice in government by expressing their political power at the ballot box. AVR protects the integrity of our voter registration lists, while facilitating voter participation, particularly for Millennials.”

Oregon, the first state to successfully implement AVR, has seen huge gains in participation. The report highlights that between the 2012 and 2016 general elections, the number of registered Oregon voters age 18 to 29 increased by 100,000, while the eligible voter population only grew by 12,000. Nationwide, however, 18- to 29-year-old nonvoters most commonly cited “not being registered” as their primary reason for not voting in the 2012 general election. Moreover, only 13 percent of young voters in 2012 held accurate understandings about their state’s voter registration deadline, while a shocking 87 percent either did not know their state’s deadline or were misinformed.

“Millennials face unprecedented challenges—crushing student debt, crippling housing insecurity, and cratering wages and benefits, among many others—but also untapped potential as biggest eligible voting bloc in the country,” said Henry Kraemer, Program Director at the Alliance for Youth Action. “To unleash our generation’s power, we need to make sure Millennials can cast ballots free of barriers. Registration is the biggest driver of turnout gaps for young people, and automatic voter registration goes a long way to giving young voters parity at the ballot—and a fighting chance to force government to address our needs.”

Recommendations in the report include:

  • Expanding AVR outside of the DMV
  • Offering point of service voter status adjustment cards to opt-out or choose a party
  • Establish secure AVR policies that do not overburden the registrant
  • Allowing same-day or Election Day registration

“Millennials are the largest and most diverse generation in American history,” said Maggie Thompson, executive director of Generation Progress. “While the current administration is engaging in cynical attacks on our right to vote, Millennials are pushing for innovative policies like automatic voter registration to enfranchise our peers and ensure that our elected representatives better reflect the values and diversity of our inclusive generation.”

Click here to access the full report.

For more information or to speak to an expert on this topic, please contact Tanya Arditi at or 202-741-6258.

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The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Generation Progress, the youth division of the Center for American Progress, is a nonpartisan organization that works with and for young people to promote progressive solutions to key political and social challenges. Through advocacy, policy, digital organizing, and events, Generation Progress engages a diverse group of young people nationwide, inspires them to embrace progressive values, provides them with essential trainings, and helps them to make their voices heard on important policy issues. Launched in 2005 and formerly called Campus Progress, we support national and local advocacy campaigns; manage the Higher Ed, Not Debt campaign; provide advocates with the necessary tools to push for progressive policies; and have held over 1,000 public events. For more information, please visit genprogress.org.

The Alliance for Youth Action (formerly “the Bus Federation”) is a national network of locally rooted, youth-led civic engagement and social justice organizations from Miami to Seattle. The Alliance supports and scales the work of local organizations, building a movement of young people, by young people, and for all people. Through disciplined civic engagement mobilization, integrated leadership development, and ground-up policy advocacy, the Alliance is moving the United States toward justice by elevating the impact of America’s largest and most diverse generation in key communities coast-to-coast.