voting championAccording to data released by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, Minnesota had the third highest youth voter (ages 19-29) turnout in the country for the 2022 election. For the last three elections Minnesota has been a national leader in youth voter turnout, coming in at #1 in 2018 and #2 in 2020.

Minnesota’s leadership in a product of its strong voting laws like same-day registration, which makes voting more accessible to first-time voters, and its strong engagement from civic organizations that assist young people through the voting process.

However, the report shows a significant decline in youth participation from the 2018 election. The 8.2% decline should be a worrying sign that Minnesota laws are not keeping up with other states' efforts to tear down institutional barriers that make it more difficult for young people to vote. 

That is why a series of voting laws moving through the Minnesota legislature are coming at the perfect time and could help Minnesota move back to its top spot. Just this week the Minnesota House of Representatives passed legislation that would allow for pre-registration of 16 and 17 year olds to vote. This will provide an on ramp for young people to vote and has shown to increase youth voting in other states across the country.  That same legislation also created an automatic voter registration. That bill now moves on to the Senate where it is expected to pass.

There is another bill moving in the House and the Senate that will also tear down some of the barriers to voting faced by young people.  That legislation would require every college to develop a voting plan, identifying a vote coordinator to manage student voter engagement, providing students with non-partisan voting information, and reporting what they are doing to the Minnesota Secretary of State. This roadmap will help higher education institutions fufill their role in helping to educate students to be engaged citizens.  The legislation will also mandate automatic voter registration of residential housing lists and allow for early voting locations to be on college campuses.

CIRCLE has also developed a list of 24 ways that civic organizations, higher education and communities can best support young people to be more engaged citizens. Check out their list here.