The Rhode Island Senate and House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to override a gubernatorial veto of important electoral reform legislation that will allow voter pre-registration for 16 and 17-year-olds. Rhode Island now becomes the fifth state, and the fourth in three years, to allow minors to pre-register, a process where their voter registration automatically becomes active upon turning 18.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed legislation, AB 30, allowing the pre-registration of 17-year-olds in the state of California. The state joins seven others that allow pre-registration at either 17 or 16. This follows close on the heels of North Carolina, which made their pre-registration age 16
over the summer. As with campaigns in other states, students
themselves were the most persuasive advocates for pre-registration.
Just at the end of the legislative session, North Carolina lawmakers passed a bi-partisan bill that will allow 16 and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote [H 908].
This will facilitate youth registration at two highly convenient
locations — in school and at the motor vehicles department when
applying for a driver's license. Currently, the majority of voters
register when conducting business at motor vehicle departments, and
this change will extend that option to younger people as well. And in
doing so it will link in young peoples' minds the rite of passage of
getting a driver's license with that of registering to vote.