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Millennial and Minority Voters Face Powerful Opposition at the Polls

Millennials are increasingly more likely to face long waits at the polls in comparison to their older counterparts and are likely to find themselves blocked out of primary voting because of laws severely limiting participation because of millennials’ preference to remain unaffiliated with a political party.   

Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law partnered with Craig Newmark of craigconnects and craigslist to conduct a survey of over 1,000 people over 18 years old. The results of this survey are alarming. Millennials face considerable barriers and will continue to, unless there is meaningful reform.

Millennials and Gen Xers are three to four times more likely to have to wait in line when compared to older voters such as Boomers. Even more astonishing, four times as many African-Americans and six times as many Latinos reported waiting at some polls for 30 minutes or more than whites who said the same.

Eleven states have closed primaries or caucuses, meaning that only voters who are registered as Republicans or Democrats prior to the primary date can participate in the nomination process for their candidates. This poses a major problem for millennials, as over 50% describe themselves as political independents. This non-affiliation may best describe their beliefs but it also guarantees that they will be locked out of the primary round of voting in states where the nomination process is limited to party members.

Over 19 million millennials who consider themselves independent are unable to vote in key states with closed primaries or caucuses, which leaves them having no input on determining the candidates offered to them in the general election.

In addition, 16 million registered voters in the U.S. do not have current government-issued photo ID. The people who generally do not have government IDs, according to the study, are senior citizens, college students, low-income households, people who primarily use public transit and transgender individuals whose gender identity doesn’t match their ID. Voter ID laws make it extremely difficult to participate in democracy for those most disenfranchised.

Reform advocates are pushing for innovations like automatic registration and online registration. 27 states are currently debating automatic registration to combat the enormous hurdles millennials face. In the face of such adversity many states have been proactive — 23 states have passed laws to modernize voting and 30 states now let citizens register online.

These laws, and potentially their reforms, are poised to have a major impact on the 2016 election cycle.
    
 

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