Thiele: Voter Pre-Registration makes it Easier for Youth to Exercise Their Right to Vote

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (I, D, WF-Sag Harbor) announced the Assembly passed legislation he helped pass that would allow 16 and 17 year olds to pre-register to vote (A.2042-A).

“Allowing teens to pre-register to vote just makes sense,” Assemblyman Thiele said. “We have to get more New Yorkers to exercise their right to vote. One way to do that is to talk to teens before they are eligible to vote and get them pre-registered. That way, they are ready to go to the polls as soon as they turn 18.”

Specifically, this legislation would add a section to the New York voter registration form allowing 16 and 17 year olds the ability to pre-register to vote. Local boards of elections would store this information and use it to automatically register the applicants when they reach the age of 18, following verification of their qualifications and address.

Thiele noted that by allowing teens to pre-register at age 16, they can conveniently pre-register to vote at the same time they obtain their driver’s license or permit. It also gives high schools an opportunity to pre-register students during voter registration drives.

According to the United States Census Bureau, as of November 2012, only 45.7 percent of New Yorkers between the ages of 18 and 24 were registered to vote. In Rhode Island, where teens can pre-register to vote starting at age 16, 61.8 percent were registered.1

“The right to vote is a basic and fundamental right for every American. However, far too many do not participate in our elections – especially younger voters,” Assemblyman Thiele said. “Getting young people involved in the election process early on encourages them to form the habit of voting and participating in our democracy.”

1. Table 4a.