New Student Voting Guide, Registration Drives To Empower Young Voters

As concerns mount about Election Day confusion over new voting laws,, two leading U.S. voting rights groups — the Brennan Center for Justice and Rock the Vote — are coming together to engage student voters and empower them to make their voices heard in the election. The Brennan Center released a comprehensive Student Voting Guide to help them navigate new state requirements, and Rock the Vote is hosting registration drives at college campuses across the U.S.

Amid new research showing that voter ID lawscould make it harder for young minority voters to access the polls, these efforts will help ensure that students are informed and able to cast ballots that count.;

The new guide provides a clear, comprehensive review of voting regulations in all 50 states, including registration deadlines, residency requirements, identification policies, polling locations and absentee voting rules. It will help students — who are particularly vulnerable to rules changes because they often attend school out of state and change addresses frequently — get to the polls and cast their ballots.

“The wave of restrictive voting laws across the country has made it harder for young people to participate in our democracy,” said Lee Rowland, counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program. “The Student Voting Guide will help young Americans navigate the labyrinth of rules so they can have an impact on Election Day and a say in the future of our country.”

The voting landscape has changed considerably in the past several years, and the Brennan Center’s new interactive guide can remedy growing confusion and ensure students can register properly and cast votes that count. Nineteen states have approved new voting restrictions since 2008, including the elimination of early voting, stricter residency requirements, and aggressive voter ID laws. Five states — Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, and Wisconsin — have also passed laws that make it harder for students to use their school-issued IDs or exclude student IDs as valid forms of identification at the polls.

In addition to facing new hurdles to the ballot box, young voters are also less politically engaged this year. A recent Gallup poll found that only 58 percent of voters aged 18 to 29 say they will definitely vote this fall — a major drop from the 78 percent of young voters who said the same four years ago. The past two weeks, however, have seen this intensity on the rise. And with nearly 17 million more Americans reaching voting age since the 2008 election, the influence of the youth vote could be immense with high turnout.

“We’re here to help ensure that every student can cast a ballot that counts this November,” said Heather Smith, President of Rock the Vote. “Amid our country’s ongoing economic struggles, students are worried about the job market and student debt. By getting to the polls, young voters can have an impact on policy and help shape the future.”

To help motivate young voters, Rock the Vote launched a “We Will” campaign that will register 1.5 million voters in time for the election. The group also kicked off “Road Trip 2012,” a bus tour that is hitting college campuses across the U.S. promoting voter registration. It features musical acts and celebrities like Jack Johnson, Far East Movement, Motion City Soundtrack, Tabi Bonney, and Asher Roth.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law is a non-partisan public policy and law institute that focuses on the fundamental issues of democracy and justice. Our work ranges from voting rights to campaign finance reform, from racial justice in criminal law to Constitutional protection in the fight against terrorism. The Brennan Center combines scholarship, legislative and legal advocacy, and communications to win meaningful, measurable change in the public sector.

Rock the Vote’s mission is to engage and build political power for young people in our country. Using music, popular culture, new technologies and grassroots organizing for more than 20 years, Rock the Vote has registered more than 5 million young people. As the tidal wave of Millennial generation voters continues to establish its power at the polls, Rock the Vote will register millions more young people and make their voices heard.