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The PROVE Act

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In September, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)  and Representative Don Beyer (D-VA, 8th District) introduced the Pre-Registration of Voters Everywhere (PROVE) Act into legislation. This bill, if passed, would allow 16- and 17-year-old Americans to pre-register to vote in federal elections. Once they’re signed up, they are automatically registered as voters when they turn 18, in time for them to vote in their first federal election. According to the Huffington Post, they introduced this bill because not enough young people participate in the electoral process. In the last federal election, the registration rate for people 18 to 24 years old was 20% lower than the national average for all age groups.

 

Currently, 28 states and the District of Columbia allow pre-registration, although the age when pre-registration is allowed varies by state. However, 22 states, including Washington, do not allow voter pre-registration, and citizens in that state must wait until they are 18 years old to register. PROVE’s preamble states that it would “amend the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to require each State to implement a process under which individuals who are 16 years of age may apply to register to vote… [and to] direct the Election Assistance Committee to make grants to States to increase the involvement of minors in public election activities…”

Green: State allows 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register. Lime: State allows 17-year-olds to pre-register. Yellow: State allows pre-registration for people at a certain time before 18th birthday (varies by State). Orange: State allows pre-registration if person will be 18 years old by the next election. Red: Does not allow pre-registration.

 

 

 

 

 

According to the official website of the United States Congress, the bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on September 6th, 2017, in legislation to become a national law, and was referred to the House Committee on House Administration the same day. The bill has not made any progress since. As of October 25th, the bill has 46 co-sponsors, or legislators that support the bill but didn’t author it.

 

Students and teachers at SHS have voiced their opinions on PROVE. Senior Cordell Johnson, who is in AP Government, said “It seems to be a good way to try increasing political participation among the younger demographic of voters since they are usually the lowest turnout. Allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register might help schools increase…educating students on the importance of voting since the decisions are made by those who show up and participate.”

 

Senior Chie Fujii, who also takes AP Government, says “I think it’s a good step toward increasing political participation among the younger demographic of American voters. Although nothing can make anyone vote I appreciate and support the attempt to put the ball in our court as it were. Decisions are made by those who show up. Hopefully, this legislation will encourage more young voters to show up.”

 

Mr. Pickett, who teaches CWA and Civics, said that he thinks “this is a good idea, as it removes potential barriers from getting as many Americans registered as possible. Many students are already involved in learning, understanding, or engaging with the civic process.”

 

According to Pickett there are some great upsides to this measure.

 

“Having students become more engaged in understanding their civic duties at a younger age can only benefit the future of the state and country,” Pickett said.  “The biggest downside would be that 16 – 17-year-olds may forget they pre-registered, and then forget to cast their ballot or update their information when they turn 18 and it comes time to vote.”

 

Washington is behind other states when it comes to pre-registration, as it does not allow voter registration until age 18. If PROVE passes, it would be make a significant impact on voting. PROVE would encourage young Americans to understand and engage in civic responsibility. While there are benefits and downsides to PROVE, it may encourage more younger Americans to understand and engage in their civic duties.

 

 

 

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The PROVE Act