Colo launches registration program for teen voters
Associated Press Writer
DENVER – Rhea Boyd, an 18-year-old high school student from Denver, says she needs to read up on the candidates for U.S. Senate and governor after she registered to vote Tuesday on the Internet for her first election.
Boyd said she doesn’t know much about the candidates in the election this November, but she believes a lot more teenagers will vote after Colorado became one of three states offering Internet voter registration.
“We’re a lot more savvy when it comes to computers, and I think the number of teenage voters is going to grow exponentially,” Boyd said.
Secretary of State Bernie Buescher said students have to be 18 on or before the Nov. 9 election to vote this year, but they can register as early as their 17th birthday.
He said the new law applies to all voters, and 174 have taken advantage of the new system that began April 1.
Under the new program, voters use their driver’s license or permit to verify their identities and registration is almost instantaneous. Current law requires voters to be registered at least 29 days before the election.
Seth Masket, assistant professor political science at the University of Denver, said Democrats are hoping they will benefit from the new technology because they believe most young people are leaning toward the Democratic Party, but he believes there is no link between innovative voter registration programs and party affiliation.
Masket said Congress lowered the voting age to 18 and Richard Nixon won by a landslide. When Congress passed the motor voter act in 1993, Democrats were hoping to attract poorer voters who couldn’t get off from work to register and Republicans won the midterm elections.
“You can see why Democrats are excited and Republicans are frustrated by these new laws, but it doesn’t always turn out that way,” he said.
Rep. Joe Miklosi, a Democrat from Denver who sponsored the bill, said he believes the new law will appeal especially to young voters who grew up with texting and iPhones.
“We need to reach out to our youth,” Miklosi said. Washington state and Arizona also offer the program.
About two dozen students at Thomas Jefferson High School munched on free pizza Tuesday as they used the school’s computer lab to register to vote. Boyd said she believes most of her classmates will register as Democrats.
Senior class president Tom Moehlman said he believes fewer young voters will turn out this year than they did two years ago because their is no presidential election and no young, electrifying candidate like Barack Obama, but he believes they will still turn out to vote.
“This is very important to our state. About half the 18-year-old students here have already registered,” he said.