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Key Takeaways:

Legislative Considerations

  • Turnout. The argument for implementing preregistration policies has to do with increasing youth turnout. Turnout among 18- to 29-year-olds is consistently lower than other age groups, so states are looking to preregistration as one option to engage young voters in the electoral process. A series of studies have shown that preregistration has a positive effect on youth turnout.

  • Logistics. Since preregistered youth may change addresses between preregistration and their first chance to vote, these registrations may no longer be accurate and valid. States may need to send notifications to preregistered voters once they turn 18 to confirm the registration and address information. Updates or additions to the statewide voter registration database may be needed to enter preregistrations and track this information.

  • Cost. Costs may be a factor; implementation in Colorado was estimated at $572,112 in 2013. Additionally, the cost of returned mailings to this mobile population can be significant.

  • Identification. Younger voters may not have a driver’s license, so what identification is required to preregister? Is an affidavit signed by a parent sufficient?

  • Location. Where should preregistration take place? Does the state need to work with the department of motor vehicles or with high schools?

  • Protected information. Consider whether information for preregistered voters should be protected and not provided on publicly available voter lists.

  • Education and outreach. What is the best way to get the word out about preregistration and reach out to potential young voters?

Related Resources

NCSL Election Resources

The NCSL elections team provides a variety of resources on election issues, including but not limited to 50-state surveys on state laws, legislation databases, a monthly elections newsletter, enactment summaries and other publications.

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