Why Election Day Registration Matters

Young people move around a lot. According to recent statistics, one in five millennials probably changed address over the past year. And that doesn’t account for those even younger, heading off to college for the first time and changing address during their four or more years there.

Our 20-day voter registration cutoff, as a result, disenfranchises countless young voters each year seeking to participate in our democracy. Our September primaries fall shortly after one of the biggest move-in dates, and those final 20 days before an election are when media attention on an election is often the most intense — and voters most informed about what is going on. Young people are learning about high-stakes elections that they are not allowed to participate in.

But we can change that. That’s why the Young Democrats of Massachusetts are proud to endorse S.396 and H.685: An Act relative to election day registration, which would eliminate this arbitrary and exclusionary cutoff date.

Our neighbors in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Connecticut all have Election Day Registration. And it works: studies show that it leads to a bump in turnout of about 5 percent.

The experiences that voters have at their first time at the polls can shape their attitudes toward voting for the rest of their life. So let’s make sure it’s a good one.