Bill would let 16- and 17-year-olds “preregister” to vote
BY: Wilder Fleming
March 22, 2012
When it comes to civic engagement, Massachusetts teens could hit the ground running and automatically be registered to vote on their 18th birthday under legislation approved yesterday by a Beacon Hill committee.
The Legislature’s election laws committee released a package of reforms, which includes a provision that would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to “preregister” to vote. Under the bill, 16- and 17-year-olds could check a box on their application for a driver’s permit and automatically be registered to vote upon turning 18. Those 18 and older can already register in this way through Registry of Motor Vehicle offices.
“In 2008, nearly half of young voters aged 18 to 24 in the country were unregistered,” said the committee’s co-chairman, Sen. Barry Finegold of Andover, at a press conference. He said the initiative could help address this by reaching young people while they’re still in high school, where pre-registration drives could be held. “People who get involved in the political process at an early age are more likely to stay engaged,” Finegold said.