WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Nikema Williams (D-Ga.) introduced the Youth Voting Rights Act. The bill aims to enforce the 26th Amendment — which was ratified in 1971 and prohibits the denial of the right to vote on account of age for everyone over 18 — and outlines a private right of action to empower individuals to enforce this amendment through lawsuits. The Youth Voting Rights Act also expands voter registration opportunities at public colleges and universities, requires higher education institutions to have on-campus polling places, allows individuals to pre-register to vote before turning 18, mandates that states with voter ID requirements accept student IDs and more.
“Young voters stand to lose the most from being denied a voice in our democracy. It’s our younger generation that will face the long-term consequences of our political challenges – like stymied action on climate change, gun violence, and reproductive rights,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), one of the bill’s six cosponsors in the Senate. The Youth Voting Rights Act has 15 cosponsors in the House. The Senate failed to pass landmark voting rights legislation in January; Williams, Warren and others, like Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), have introduced narrower packages in the months since, potentially with the hopes of better prospects for passage.