September 08, 2017

Van Hollen, Duckworth, Beyer, and Ellison Introduce Legislation to Support Civic Participation and Strengthen Voting Rights

U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) have introduced the Pre-Registration of Voters Everywhere (PROVE) Act to expand voter registration efforts nationwide and increase American citizens' participation in their democratic process. The PROVE Act would enable citizens who are 16 and 17 to preregister to be added to voter rolls when they turn 18. Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) also introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"Too many people still face barriers in voting, and increasing participation in our democratic progress is something we should work toward - regardless of party or political background. The PROVE Act would do just that, ensuring that young people are pre-registered to vote and ready to head to the ballot box when they turn 18 years old," said Senator Van Hollen. "Maryland has been a national leader on this issue, and this legislation will help move the entire nation forward and ultimately strengthen our democracy."

"The right to vote is a founding tenet of our democracy, and the strength of our democracy depends upon the participation of the American people," said Senator Duckworth. "Yet, many Americans still face unnecessary barriers when it comes to casting their vote, and voter turnout continues to lag behind that of many other developed nations. We should be doing everything we can to make it easier - not harder - for Americans to access the ballot box. I'm proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bill to help young Americans become more civically engaged. By allowing Americans to pre-register at 16 years old, we have a chance to increase voter participation and strengthen voting rights for Americans across the country."

Young people are already allowed to pre-register to vote in twenty states and the District of Columbia. Maryland has been a leader in this effort, and currently allows young people to pre-register to vote at the age of 16. The state made the change in order to stimulate civic engagement at a young age and enhance voter participation.

The PROVE Act would nationalize this standard to increase voting among young Americans by reducing existing barriers many young people face when it comes to voting in federal elections. The PROVE Act is endorsed by Common Cause, Fair Vote Action, Head Count, Project Vote and Rock the Vote. Full text of the bill is available here.