As youth voter turnout increases, so do the barriers these voters face to participate in elections.
Republican-led legislatures – including in New Hampshire – have introduced bills to prevent out-of-state college students from voting on campus, or ban the use of student IDs to register.
President of NextGen America Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez said the bills are an effort to suppress young voters, who increasingly vote for more liberal-leaning candidates. “You know,” said Ramirez, “what you don’t get to do in a democracy is say, ‘I don’t like the way this group is voting, so I’m going to make sure they don’t get to vote.'”
Proponents of these bills say they’re needed to protect against voter fraud despite a lack of evidence.
Ramirez said both political parties recognize the power of the youth vote – now the largest and most diverse generational voting bloc in the country.
Reintroduced federal legislation, the “Youth Voting Rights Act,” would increase voter registration opportunities at colleges and universities, and require every state to allow pre-registration to vote beginning at age 16.
Ramirez said the bill will gain traction the more young people vote. “What we’ve seen is,” said Ramirez, “when we invest the time and energy to register, pledge young people to vote, tell them how and when to vote, they will show up.”
Ramirez said the Youth Voting Rights Act would also create a grant program to support youth-led voter outreach programs to ensure the number of young people exercising their right to cast a ballot keeps growing.