Rock the Vote President Heather Smith’s response to the “Voter Empowerment Act” being introduced today in the US House of Representatives.
The Voter Empowerment Act is a positive step toward ensuring that every person who is eligible to cast a ballot is able to do so.
We should be expanding our system to allow for more participation and not actively rolling back progress made in recent years. The introduction of restrictive laws that make it harder for young people to vote include: narrowing photo identification requirements, eliminating Same Day Registration, and threatening third-party voter registration groups and their volunteers with steep fines.
The Millennial Generation comprises 45 million eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 29, the largest and most diverse generation in our country. It is also the most urban, mobile, interconnected and technologically savvy generation in history. Yet while these young Americans are designing and implementing innovative ways to shape their communities – volunteering at record rates, using social media and technology to solve problems– they are too often blocked from the most fundamental element of civic participation: the right to vote.
We need a voting system that makes it easier for young people to participate and not harder. If the strength of our democracy can be measured by the participation of our citizens, then barriers being placed on young people pose a serious threat to the longterm future of our democratic system. The Voter Empowerment Act is a great step toward a more modern election system that meets the needs of today’s voters.