As a society, we often criticize younger generations for being politically disengaged, but is it possible the system is designed to be that way?
Voting rules popping up around the country seem specifically designed to disenfranchise young people rather than encourage them to register. Given that millennials are significantly more likely to lean liberal, it’s not hard to guess why certain right-wing groups might underhandedly alter the rules to prevent new voters from signing up. Here’s a look out how they’re discouraging young people from voting:
1. Making Registration More Difficult
Are non-citizens registering to vote? Statistics say infrequently, but that’s not going to stop some politicians from enacting laws that require new voter registrants to first prove they are citizens. Arizona and Kansas have enacted legislation requiring wannabe voters to provide physical proof like a birth certificate or passport. Federally, signing a sworn affidavit that you are a citizen is considered sufficient.
Though these new rules seem geared toward undocumented immigrants, they also impact young Americans. As younger generations come of age and then because of these laws face obstacles in getting signed up, they’re more likely to not follow through or indefinitely put off the process. In essence, all of those get-out-the-vote drives are useless, because who is walking around with a birth certificate?
2. Cutting Out Teenage Pre-Registration
One thing that could help fix this situation would be to give new voters more time to register. Though rules differ from state to state, North Carolina, for example, has thrown out its pre-registration rules that previously allowed 16 and 17-year-old citizens to sign up to vote in advance. By taking away the chance for young adults to get registered while they still live with their parents (who are most likely the keepers of important documents like birth certificates) it makes it more likely that new voters will be deterred from or have insufficient documentation to register once they are already 18.
3. No Same Day Registration
Between school, employment, and social lives, time inevitably flies by and inconsistent and early voter registration deadlines leave young would-be voters ineligible to participate in the upcoming election before they even realize they’ve been shut out.
Voter laws that prevent people from signing up on Election Day are particularly detrimental to millennials. In states that have experimented with same day registration, the youngest Americans took advantage of this availability over 2.5 times more than older Americans. By making deadlines significantly earlier than most people are even thinking about voting, it definitely prevents potential new voters from participating.
4. Voter ID Restrictions
Though voter ID laws were seemingly instituted to stand in the way of minority and low-income voters participating at the polls, it also has an effect on at least 700,000 young Americans.
Technically, plenty of young Americans do have identifications — student IDs, to be precise — but for whatever reason those are considered inappropriate at polling stations. College identifications almost always include pictures and universities don’t exactly hand them out willy-nilly, yet the powers that be refuse to acknowledge them as sufficient.
On the other hand, a gun permit in Texas is all the identification you need to vote. It’s hard to imagine which party pushed those rules through… .
Photo credit: Thinkstock.
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