In too many states in America, the failure of governments to modernize the voter registration system is being taken out on the voters and disproportionately impacting young people.
Not only are states refusing to modernize election systems, they’re moving in the opposite direction of progress and making it harder to vote. These system failures are the result of both concerted acts of suppression and the inability or unwillingness to leverage new technologies to update an antiquated, paper-based process.
Rock the Vote is organizing young people around the country with our “Don’t Block the Vote” campaign, meant to propel our registration system into the 21st century while countering efforts to take it back to the 19th century. Some people just don’t want voters to turn out, while others like Rock the Vote want to make it easier for more people to participate. Our Rock the Vote Don’t Block the Vote website features an interactive map that highlights which states are passing what laws.
States like Texas, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania have already passed legislation that makes it harder for young people to register and vote.
Specifically, these states have limited Early Voting and Same Day Registration and have made it harder to actually cast a ballot through restrictive photo ID laws. Through efforts from groups like Rock The Vote, public outcry has ensured vetoes of similar voter suppression legislation in Missouri, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and North Carolina. Even without these new hurdles to civic participation, few Secretary of State web pages are equipped with basic information or digital tools that would simplify important logistical details about the voting process. In an era when we could register young people on their smart phones using QR codes, we’re still asking individuals to print and snail mail forms at the post office? #FAIL
In 2011, Rock the Vote created a Voting System Scorecard that evaluates state laws and practices that increase access and foster participation. According to the Voting System Scorecard, the average national overall score for voting accessibility is only 41% (8.6 out of 21 possible points) with Washington ranking highest at 68% and South Carolina and Virginia at the bottom with 18%. Only 15 states scored above 50%.
This year we’ll continue our efforts to educate young people affected by these restrictive voting laws. We want to make sure that these young people are not disenfranchised simply because they are uninformed. Thus, we will educate young people on the types of identification required to cast a ballot, the materials needed to obtain these identifications, modified voting dates that pertain to the cancellation of Same Day Registration and the push back of Early Voting.