Bennet, Duckworth, Colleagues Reintroduce Legislation to Expand Voting Rights And Improve Civic Participation

Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and several of their Democratic colleagues reintroduced the Pre-Registration of Voters Everywhere (PROVE) Act to expand voter registration efforts nationwide and increase participation in the democratic process. The PROVE Act would allow for U.S. citizens aged 16 and 17 to pre-register to be added to voter rolls when they turn 18. Additionally, the PROVE Act also provides $25 million in grants, over two years, for states to distribute to schools and localities to develop curricula to encourage civic engagement.

“Every American should be able to register to vote and cast their ballots as easily as we do in Colorado,” said Bennet. “Our state has led the way on efforts to expand access to the ballot, which includes offering pre-registration to reduce the barriers young people often face when voting. I look forward to passing our legislation to make it easier for future voters to participate in our democracy.”

Across the country, more than 20 states — including Colorado — allow young Americans to pre-register to vote before they turn 18. The PROVE Act would eliminate the state-by-state discrepancies and uniformly enable 16- and 17-year-old citizens to pre-register to vote and automatically be added to voter rolls when they turn 18. This legislation would increase civic participation among young Americans and help address the 20 percent gap in voter registration between 18–24-year-olds and the national average of all ages.

In addition to Bennet and Duckworth, this legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). 

In the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Representative Don Beyer (D-Va.) introduced companion legislation.

The PROVE Act is endorsed by: Common Cause, Rock the Vote, FairVote, and Head Count.

“Rock the Vote fully endorses the PROVE Act as a critical step to create a more representative and healthy democracy,” said Carolyn DeWitt, President of Rock the Vote. “Pre-registration is a nonpartisan, common sense policy that has been successfully adopted in states across the country and has proven to help close the voter participation gap. As new voters, young people face disproportionate barriers to voting, resulting in a generation that is continually underrepresented. We, as a country, do little to prepare young people to engage in the civic process, resulting in major disparities in participation. The PROVE Act will help make strides in increasing young voter turnout."

"Now more than ever, we need to nurture citizens who are active participants in our democracy," said Rob Richie, President and CEO of FairVote. "Voter pre-registration is a good-government, common-sense reform that gets more young people on the voter rolls and engaged in the important work of self-governance. FairVote has supported and tracked pre-registration for nearly 20 years, and the verdict is in: it works. Pre-registration has delivered on its promises in Republican-run states like Florida and Louisiana and in Democratic-run states like Maryland and Delaware, and it's time to make it a national norm." 

The bill text is available HERE.