Voter registration is the first step to getting voters to the polls. However, many have not taken that first step - particularly among young adults. In 2010, only 45.3 percent of eligible 18 to 24 year olds registered to vote compared to 65.1 percent of overall eligble voters.
For young people, there are barriers they face to registration, particularly among students. In 2010, over a third of students cited lacking information, missing registration deadlines, or not meeting residency requirements as reasons why they did not register to vote. To increase registration, its important to reach students on campus. In 2008, of those that did register to vote, 30% reported that they registered through a voter registration drive or through their school, a hospital, or other location.
Any effort to engage citizens in our democracy should recognize that a key component to any successful voter registration effort is an understanding of the applicable laws, rules and practices. Every election, thousands of voters are turned away from the polls because they have missed voter registration deadlines. Additionally, state legislative efforts around the country are making it more difficult for individuals to register to vote and for 3rd party registration groups to help people get registered. The Fair Elections Legal Network works with groups to help them build legal guidelines and best practices into their voter registration plans. Amongst the resources on this page are our state guides to voter registration and voter mobilization.
FELN is also committed to promoting voter registration reform that reflects 21st century realities. Individuals should be able to register to vote online, but only about 20% of states have adopted such legislation. Also, with statewide voter registration databases now in place throughout the country, individuals who have moved should be allowed to update their addresses throughout the state on Election Day and vote a regular ballot. Common sense reforms such as these will allow more citizens to participate in our democracy.
FELN Reports, Guides and Other Resources
- Protect Access to the Polls
- Senate Hearing Spotlights Voting Law Changes in Florida
- Fla. GOP Pushes Controversial Voting Law Changes