Since the school shooting in Parkland, Florida in February, teenagers from around the country have not only organized a large demonstration in Washington, D.C (in addition to nearly 800 more cities). and inspired a nationwide walkout on March 14, they have ignited an interest in getting young people registered to vote.
However, registering people under the age of 18 isn’t exactly easy or even available in every state. To help bring some clarity, we’ve created a few simple graphics that showcase what registering young voters activities can take place like across the country.
Registration Starting at 16 Years Old
14 States allow registration as early as 16 years old according to the National Council of State Legislatures. These states are:
- California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. This list does not include states that have laws on the books that include Automatic Voter Registration characteristics (more on these states below). For more information visit our Voting In Your State resource to contact your local election official.
Registration Starting at 17 Years Old
Four states have laws on the books that state registration can occur at the age of 17. Maine, Nevada, New Jersey and West Virginia allow young voters to register who will be 18 in time for a general election. For instance, if you have a client in your hometown of Brunswick, Maine who elects to register to vote in March before their October 18th birthday, they’ll be a pending voter and will be eligible to go to the polls on Election Day in November.
Registration after 17.5 years and beyond
So after a prospective voter you serve turns 17, things get a little more complicated and certainly less cut and dry. Some states allow registration six months before an election, some states, like Texas allow for registration after a person turns 17 and 10 months, and others don’t have a law on the books that specifically addresses this in clear fashion. Some states in this group have Automatic Voter Registration that covers pre-registration, but again, it isn’t as crystal clear as one would hope. For information about your state, we encourage you to consult our Voting in Your State page for the most accurate and up to date information.
For more information visit the National Council on State Legislatures (NCSL’s) handy page on pre-registration for young voters.