Registering Teenage Voters, Years in Advance
Kansas City Prime Buzz links to a post about preregistering teenagers to vote. A bill introduced in the Kansas State Legislature would allow people as young as 14 to preregister.
In Missouri, you can register six months before your 18th birthday. That gives people plenty of time before they’re eligible to vote, so I don’t see a need for Missouri to adopt a new policy. Opening preregistration years early looks like another product of the mindset I discussed in my post about anti-obesity efforts — the notion that everything worth doing should be made easy by law.
The state should not make it unnecessarily difficult to register, or set up hurdles to prevent people from voting. However, asking people to wait until they’re almost old enough to vote before they register is not imposing a hardship on them. We do need laws to facilitate voter registration, but it’s OK if the process calls for a little bit of initiative on the part of voters.
We don’t allow 14-year-olds to sign up early for their driver licenses or concealed-carry permits. They wait until they’re old enough for the licenses and permits to matter to them. It’s reasonable for them to wait a few years before they register to vote, too.