Why it matters:
On the table at the Capital is bill 2023SJ-00035-R00-SB a proposal to allow for preregistering 16 year olds to vote and automatically make them registered to vote on their 18th birthday. This is an expansion of the law affording 17 year olds the same privilege. While it may seem noble to expand the registration process to the TikTok generation it is based on the premise that today’s youth are not trusted with the traits or responsibility to register to vote on their 18th birthday.
The graph shows that the preregistration of 17 years has been a dismal failure. Presumably Connecticut should should have seen a windfall of youth registrations, when in fact, 2022 showed a poor turnout of 18 year olds who only represented 0.004% of the electorate.
Lawmakers have a responsibility to study the data and judge the effectiveness of comparable laws before adding or expanding what is on the books. Instead this proposed bill has no grounding in data or a reasonable prospect of achieving a goal.
The real issue lies in the question that is not being asked; Why are the youth of this state not engaged, not registering to vote and mostly just not voting?
Voter engagement comes from candidates connecting voters to real issues, inspiring voters to step -up and vote, by ensuring that our elections are trusted events where everyones voice is heard. Until we answer these questions let’s forget the bandaids and focus on solving the core issue, voter enthusiasm or lack there of.
Recap and Principles:
1) There is no basis for success for bill 2023SJ-00035-R00-SB
2) Data shows that preregistering 17 years did not impact the youth vote in 2022
3) Do not expand legislation without clear, achievable goals