POLITICS

Online Voter Registration Would Boost Youth Turnout, OurTime.org Report Says

Genna Schwartz, left, of the Ohio State University Student Democrats, passes out information about President Obama's upcoming
Genna Schwartz, left, of the Ohio State University Student Democrats, passes out information about President Obama's upcoming visit to Ohio State, and is turned down by a young man on the Oval, on the campus of the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle, will speak on the Oval Sunday, Oct, 17, 2010. The Obamamania that gripped college campuses two years ago is gone. An Associated Press-mtvU poll found college students cooling in their support for President Barack Obama, a fresh sign of trouble for Democrats struggling to rekindle enthusiasm among many of these newest voters for the crucial midterm elections in three weeks. (AP Photo/Terry Gilliam)

States should implement online voter registration and Congress should force states with voter ID laws to accept college identification cards at the polls, a new report by millennial advocacy group OurTime.org said.

The report, released Thursday, outlines barriers to young voters in the 2012 elections, including voter ID laws, voter roll purges, confusion, long lines and attempts to pass laws forbidding out-of-state students from casting ballots where they attend school.

Young voters made up a greater percentage of the electorate in 2012 than they did in 2008 or 2004, helping pass state ballot initiatives to raise taxes and legalize same-sex marriage, as well as to reelect President Barack Obama. But young voter turnout would grow further without the hassle.

Online voter registration was at the top of the group's suggestions. "In a world where we bank and manage investments online, pay bills and taxes online, and buy and sell goods online, it is increasingly illogical that we cannot register to vote online," the report said.

The report said online voter registration saved Washington state more than $125,000 in its first year, and nearly doubled the number of registrations of people aged 18 to 24 in Arizona.

In California, which passed an online registration law in 2012, voters approved a ballot proposition to raise taxes to fund education, largely due to a strong turnout from young voters. Exit polling showed voters aged 18 to 29 made up 28 percent of the electorate in California, matching or beating every other age group, except for one that includes those aged 45 to 64.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 13 states are considering bills to allow online or electronic voter registration.

Although voter ID laws were cited as a burden to young voters, the report did not call for their elimination. Rather, it called on Congress to create a national law to expand acceptable forms of ID.

"We support federal legislation that would require states with strong photo ID restrictions to accept a standardized list of IDs, including student and university IDs as well as library cards in addition to a numerous other forms of documentation," the report said.

Texas moved in 2011 to allow gun permits as voter ID, but not university ID cards. (The Department of Justice blocked Texas' voter ID law.) Most college ID cards were not permitted under Pennsylvania's voter ID law, because they don't have expiration dates.

OurTime also called for mandatory early voting periods, Election Day voter registration and uniform standards for voting machine allocation.

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