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Michigan Will Allow 16-Year-Olds to Preregister to Vote

The state will join 16 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing 16-year-olds to preregister to vote once Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signs the bill. The new law will go into effect next year.

Sixteen-year-olds will be able to preregister to vote under a bill headed to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her signature.

The Michigan House of Representatives gave the final procedural OK to House Bill 4569 on Wednesday night. It passed the House in June and the Senate last week, both along party lines, with Democrats voting for and Republicans voting against.

Michigan already allows eligible people who are 17.5 years old to register to vote in preparation for the first election in which they would be 18. This bill extends that to Michiganders as young as 16.

Registered voters younger than 18 would also be able to participate in early in-person voting and absentee voting before an election as long as they will be 18 on Election Day.

“Allowing young people to pre-register to vote — particularly while they’re learning about civics and the democratic process in school — will undoubtedly increase participation in our elections by ensuring when they are legally eligible to vote at 18, they will be all set to become a lifelong voter,” sponsoring Rep. Betsy Coffia, D- Traverse City, said in a statement.

By July 2024, the Secretary of State’s office will contact every Michigander between 16 and 18 years old who has applied for a driver’s license or state identification card and is eligible to preregister or register to vote and has not done so.

From 2025 onward, this outreach will happen every April.

These young people will be informed how to register to vote. They can do so online, via mail, at a Secretary of State branch, at their clerk’s office or at any state agency that serves people with disabilities.

In Michigan’s voter rolls – called the Qualified Voter File – preregistered voters would be specifically designated as ineligible to vote until they’re 18. When the person turns 17.5, the voter file will notify the local clerk to send them a voter ID card and add them to the master file.

To make young Michiganders aware of this new opportunity, the Secretary of State and the Michigan Department of Education will coordinate an annual outreach campaign. The education department will also provide every public high school with voter registration and preregistration materials.

Michigan will join 16 states and the District of Columbia in allowing 16-year-olds to preregister to vote, according to the House Fiscal Agency’s analysis.

A nonpartisan office in the legislature, the agency estimates the secretary of state sending postcards to these young people eligible to register will cost approximately $64,000 each year.

The education department, the Secretary of State and Michigan’s associations for municipal and county clerks have said they support the bill.

©2023 Advance Local Media LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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