Massachusetts Pre-registration Rate Rises to 25%
After the law allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote in Massachusetts first took effect in August 2016, only 6,663 high school students had pre-registered before the end of that year. That is approximately only 4% of the population of 16- and 17-year-olds.
By the end of 2017, 14,016 high school students were pre-registered to vote--representing 8% of the total population of 16- and 17-year-olds in 2017. In 2018, the pre-registration rate in Massachusetts reached 25%, as more than 42,378 eligible 16- and 17-year-olds pre-registered to vote in the state. Between 2016 and 2018, Massachusetts pre-registered more than 62,183 young people.
Two years after 16- and 17-year-olds gained access to voter pre-registration in Massachusetts, youth turnout voters ages 18 to 29 in the state reached 33.3% in 2018--doubling the state’s youth turnout 2014 midterm election of 16%. While this correlation is not proven to be related to the 2016 pre-registration law, multiple studies have revealed the positive effects of voter pre-registration on youth voter turnout.
Despite the increase in youth voter registration and turnout, the pre-registration rate remains low. In all Massachusetts counties--except for Norfolk--the rate is less than 30%. In Norfolk County, which has one of the highest populations of 16- and 17-year-olds in the state, the pre-registration rate is 32%. Nantucket County, by contrast, has the smallest population of 16- and 17-year-olds and an 8% pre-registration rate.
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