January 28, 2021

Congressman Joe Neguse Reintroduces National Pre-Registration Bill

Washington D.C.— Today, Congressman Joe Neguse announced the reintroduction of the Next Generation Votes Act, his bill to enact nationwide pre-registration for 16 and 17-year-olds. Before being elected to Congress, Congressman Neguse founded Colorado’s largest youth voter mobilization organization, New Era Colorado, which championed initiatives like pre-registration and online voter registration across the state. The Next Generation Votes Act builds on work Congressman Neguse began in Colorado to make it easier for young people to get involved in the political process. Across the nation, a growing number of states, including Colorado have taken up pre-registration to integrate young people into the democratic process early, at a time when they are more likely to begin interacting with government agencies, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, where voter registration services are offered. The Next Generation Votes Act, modeled off of these successful state-led efforts, would ensure nationwide pre-registration to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to register to vote ahead of their 18th birthday. 

“Before being elected to Congress, I led an effort in Colorado to get young people registered to vote and to ensure voter registration was easy and accessible for voters across Colorado,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “The Next Generation Votes Act is inspired by Colorado’s leadership on pre-registration, and will bring our state’s successful model to the entire nation, by enacting nationwide pre-registration for 16 and 17-year-olds. Our democracy is stronger when everyone has the opportunity to participate. Ensuring young people are engaged and active in the political process early is essential for the vitality and the future of our democracy.”

“Throughout our history, young people have been the first to stand up to injustice, the first to demand change,” says Nicole Hensel, Executive Director of New Era Colorado. “Democracy works best when we all show up; and young people are ready to make their voices heard on the issues that matter the most to our generation—climate change, racial justice, student debt, reproductive rights, and more. However, voter registration remains one of the most persistent barriers to youth civic engagement, which is why pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds is a critical policy reform to expand access and foster a habit of voting for a lifetime. Colorado's election access laws are the gold standard across the country—and we have found that when you break down barriers to accessing our democracy, young people turn out in droves.”

“Having as many Americans as possible registered to vote is a fundamental tenet of our democracy. We applaud Representative Neguse's Next Generation Votes Act legislation which will ensure that young people get onto the rolls and are able to exercise their right to vote in future elections,” said Lisa Gilbert, Executive Vice President, Public Citizen.

“This bill to welcome young people into the democratic process early through pre-registration reflects exactly what young organizers in the Alliance for Youth Action network fight for 365 days a year, every year - more access to our democracy. Our network organizations have already helped win this fight in states across the country, but every young person in every state should be pre-registered to vote,” said Sarah Audelo, Executive Director of the Alliance for Youth Action.  “Representative Neguse’s bill to federally expand pre-registration of 16 and 17-year-olds  will increase civic participation and benefit our society as a whole. We applaud him for this introduction and look forward to working with him and other members to ensure its passage.”

“As certain states and localities try to create barriers to prevent young Americans from having their voices heard and votes counted, we must ensure that young Americans can have a strong say in the future of our democracy,” said Aaron Scherb, Director of Legislative Affairs at Common Cause. “Ensuring that 16 and 17-year-olds can pre-register to vote is an important step to counter voter suppression tactics, and we commend Representative Neguse for introducing this common-sense bill.”

“Ensuring active participation and civic engagement of young Americans in our electoral process remains vital to the promise of our democracy,” said Jana Morgan, Director of the Declaration for American Democracy. “This critical legislation provides an opportunity for young people, particularly for Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth who are disproportionately impacted by voter disenfranchisement, to play an active role in our elections by allowing 16 and 17 year-olds to pre-register to vote. Now is the time to expand voting rights and transform our government into one that is accessible by all Americans, and this bill brings us closer toward eliminating barriers to voting that young people continue to face. We applaud Congressman Neguse for his leadership to expand voter registration access so that all young Americans have their voices heard.”

“The 2020 election saw the highest youth voter turnout in history,” said Alex Morgan, Executive Director of Progressive Turnout Project. “Then, in Georgia's January 5th runoff elections, 120,000 additional and largely young new voters chose to participate in our democracy. It is clear that young Americans are eager to participate in our democracy, and we must support proactive legislation like the Next Generation Votes Act to engage them early and make sure they're able to exercise their right to vote the minute they're eligible.”

"Our democracy works best when every voice is heard and every vote is counted--and that starts with encouraging lifelong participation in the electoral process. We fully support Rep. Neguse's Next Generation Votes Act and applaud his leadership and commitment to strengthening our democracy" said Tiffany Muller, President, End Citizens United // Let America Vote Action Fund.

The bill, led by Congressman Neguse, is cosponsored by Representatives John Sarbanes (D-MD), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Andy Levin (D-MI), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Darren Soto (D-FL), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and Hank Johnson (D-GA).