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Beyer, Duckworth Reintroduce Legislation to Expand Voting Rights and Improve Civic Participation

U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Don Beyer (D-VA-08) re-introduced the Pre-Registration of Voters Everywhere (PROVE) Act to expand voter registration efforts nationwide and increase American citizens’ participation in the democratic process. The PROVE Act would allow for U.S. citizens aged 16 and 17 to pre-register to be added to voter rolls when they turn 18. Additionally, the PROVE Act provides $25 million in grants, over two years, for states to distribute to schools and localities to develop curriculums aiming to encourage civic engagement.

“We should simplify the voting process for Americans, including for our youngest voters, because American democracy thrives when more people participate,” said Representative Beyer. “Our bill would do just that by allowing 16- and 17-year-old citizens to pre-register to vote, enabling them to cast their ballot the moment they turn 18, and supporting civic engagement. Pre-registration has already proven effective in states where it's been implemented, significantly boosting youth voter turnout. I thank Senator Duckworth and the voting rights leaders who worked with us to craft this important bill and urge my colleagues to support it.”

“The right to vote is a founding tenet of our democracy, and the strength of our democracy depends upon the participation of the American people,” said Senator Duckworth. “Unfortunately, many Americans are facing unnecessary barriers when it comes to casting their vote, and voter turnout continues to lag behind that of many other developed nations. We should constantly be looking for ways to bring new voters into the fold and make voting easier—not harder. I’m proud to re-introduce the PROVE Act to help get young Americans registered to vote as soon as they’re eligible, which could help boost voter participation.” 

Pre-registration of young voters is a sensible, non-partisan policy. Across the country, nearly every state—including Illinois—already allows young Americans to pre-register to vote before they turn 18. The PROVE Act would eliminate the state-by-state discrepancies and uniformly enable 16- and 17-year-old citizens to pre-register to vote and automatically be added to voter rolls when they turn 18. This legislation would help increase the civic participation among young Americans and help address the 20 percent gap in voter registration between 18–24-year-olds and the national average of all ages.

Duckworth and Beyer previously re-introduced the PROVE Act in 2022.

The PROVE Act is cosponsored in the Senate by U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-CA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). The legislation is endorsed by Common Cause, Rock the Vote and FairVote.

“Especially as some states are making it harder for students and young people to vote, we must do everything we can to encourage youth voter turnout,” said Virginia Kase Solomón, President and CEO of Common Cause. “Common Cause is proud of our history helping to advance the 26th Amendment that lowered the voting age to 18, and there is much more work to do so that it lives up to its promise of a more empowered, reflective, and representative democracy. Common Cause thanks Senator Duckworth and Congressman Beyer for their leadership in introducing the PROVE Act to ensure that the voices of young Americans can be more fully heard in the decisions that affect their lives.”

“A healthy democracy requires policies that promote civic participation particularly for marginalized groups, including young people who face disproportionate barriers to voting,” said Carolyn DeWitt, President of Rock the Vote. “Rock the Vote is proud to support the PROVE Act, a critical step in preparing our country’s youngest voters to participate in our democracy as soon as they are eligible, leading the way toward a more representative government. Our democracy is resilient, but the current climate begs us to make profound improvements to strengthen it.”

"FairVote is proud to support the PROVE Act. Voter pre-registration is a common-sense, nonpartisan solution that can increase engagement and participation, and set our young people on the path to being lifelong voters.  It has passed by lopsided margins in Republican-run states like Florida and Louisiana and in Democratic-run states like Maryland and Delaware—and delivered on its promises in all of them,” said Meredith Sumpter, President and CEO of FairVote.