As students settle back into a new school year, I think it's a great time to dig deeper into youth involvement in our democracy. This year we passed a law, which high school students have been actively organizing around, that allows 16 and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote. I was excited to sit down with Charlie Schmit, a senior at Washburn High School, who has been engaged in the community and advocated at the Capitol for policies that will empower young people. Click here to view our conversation about what we can do to strengthen youth engagement in Minnesota!
What We Did This Year
The Minnesota House passed The Democracy for the People Act this year, building on Minnesota’s proud tradition of strengthening the voices of Minnesotans in our democracy. The Democracy for the People Act included numerous solutions to empower the participation of Minnesotans across the state, including our next generation of Minnesota voters.
Now, Minnesotans who are 16 and 17 years old can pre-register so when they turn 18, they will be on the voter rolls. Minnesota joined 15 other states in making this change that has proven to increase voter registration of 18-21 year-olds by between 2% to 9% according to various studies. This policy has a history of broad and bi-partisan support in Minnesota and nationally, and previous legislative sponsors have been both Republicans and DFLers.
There were a number of other democracy-enhancing policies we passed this year that will strengthen access and participation amongst younger Minnesotans. A few of those policies include instituting automatic voter registration, allowing voters to choose to vote by mail on a permanent absentee ballot list, strengthening access to same-day registration on college campuses, and expanding the number of student election judges.
This success of Minnesota’s democracy-expanding legislation this year was possible because of the tens of thousands of Minnesotans, many like Charlie and other young people, who organized and mobilized, and the millions more who gave us the mandate to get the Democracy for the People Act done.
Where to Learn More
If you’d like to learn more and develop a deeper understanding, here are some great resources from authors, journalists, educators, and podcasters:
Learn more about the Minnesota Youth Council (MYC), a collaborative of youth leaders from across the state focused on elevating the voice of young people in our democracy and mobilizing their fellow middle and high school peers across the state to create equitable systems through youth-led outreach, education, and advocacy.
Stay in Touch
Thank you for your time, energy, and all you do to make our community a great place for everyone.
Please reach out and let us know about events and meetings you’d like me to attend. And always reach out to me with your input and ideas, or if I can ever be of assistance. My email is email@example.com or you are always welcome to call me at the Capitol at 651-296-4200 and follow my Facebook page for updates.
It’s an honor and a privilege to be your State Representative. I'm very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish this year and look forward to the work we have ahead of us. Together we can create a stronger, brighter future for all Minnesotans!