H.B. 281, “Voter Eligibility Amendments,” is a bill introduced by Rep. Briscoe (D-Salt Lake City) that would expand voter’s ability to register for and participate in state primary elections. The bill, which is currently on the Senate’s second reading calendar, would amend Utah law to allow those who are 17 years old to register and vote in the State’s primary election granted they are at least 18 years of age on the day of the general election later that year.
Difficulty and confusion relating to voter registration is one of the top three reasons people in the United States don’t vote, according to Fortune Magazine. Voter turnout in the United States is historically low and it is often stated that the youth electorate vote at even less rates than their older counterparts. However, even as our last presidential election showcased two of the least-popular candidates in recorded history, 18-29 year-olds showed up to the polls at the second highest rate since 2000: only surpassed by Barack Obama’s first candidacy for President in 2008. Youth are also involved in the political process through outlets other than voting, such as protests and boycotts. Our state has a keen opportunity to get out ahead of the youth political movement and become an advocate for future generations looking to take their future into their own hands.
This surge in youth political involvement can be capitalized on by opening up the voter registration process and simplifying voting as a whole: H.B. 281 does both.