DEMOCRAT-ENHANCEMENT MOVEMENT GAINS STEAM

Bill advances to increase teen pre-enrollment

The Democratic Party continues to be successful nationwide and in New York with efforts to change electoral laws so that enrollment and voter participating by sympathetic demographics increase. Republicans have failed to keep pace with their liberal counterparts on these vote-positive efforts, such as by passing laws to encourage voting by the military, seniors or politically disconnected working and middle-class whites. On the other hand, the Voter ID movement arguably stands to benefit the GOP by discouraging some Democratic-leaning voters too apathetic to register for photo ID from ever voting, however, it may be struck down by the federal courts for that very reason.

Senator David Carlucci and Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh announced that their legislation allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote has advanced in both houses of the legislature. The bill, sponsored by Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh and Senator David Carlucci, would allow teenagers to pre-register so that their registration becomes effective immediately on their 18th birthday, the legal age for voting in New York.

The legislation was approved by the Assembly Election Law Committee, chaired by Assemblymember Michael Cusick, and the Senate Elections Committee, chaired by Senator Tom O’Mara. It is intended to increase voter participation, especially among younger voters. It should also facilitate processing of registrations by local election boards which are often burdened with large numbers of new registrations immediately before major elections. The bill now advances to the floor of the Senate and to the Ways and Means Committee in the Assembly.

Youth voter registration is generally lower than the overall population. Only 59 percent of eligible voters between the ages of 18-24 registered, as compared with 71 percent of voters of all ages. In addition to allowing for pre-registration, the bill would require local boards of education to adopt policies to educate students about the value of voter participation.