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    Our Voice, Our Vote

    Contributed by Laura Jiang, a member of the House District 38 Student Leadership Cabinet.

    In the 2012 presidential election, 72% of voters aged 71+ voted in the 2012 election while only 46% percent of young adults participated. At that time, just 19% of the 2012 electorate was made up of Millennials. Today, Millennials and Baby Boomers each constitute about 31% of the electorate. We have a lot of potential political power, but that power depends on turning out to vote. Our vote matters, especially when it comes to issues that directly affect us, like education policy.

    Limited awareness and accessibility of pre-registration programs are significant barriers to youth civic engagement. Registration for youth typically occurs during registration drives at community centers which are less accessible to those living in rural areas.

    SB 802 allows 16-year-olds to pre-register to vote. The strategy of pre-registration has already proven effective. A George Mason University study of Hawaii and Florida’s pre-registration programs found a direct link between pre-registration and voter turnout and that pre-registration promotes youth civic engagement. By allowing pre-registration for 16 year-olds, we can make it easier for the nearly 20,000 16-year-olds that visit the Oregon DMV each year to apply for their driver’s licenses to be automatically registered to vote when they turn 18. This helps encourage young people to think about voting, streamlines the voting process and increasing youth participation.

    Laura Jiang is an incoming senior at Lake Oswego High School and a member of the House District 38 Student Leadership Cabinet.

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