Utah Policy/KSL Insider Survey: Should 16 and 17-Year-Olds Be Allowed to Register to Vote?

Rep. Jon Cox says one way to boost Utah's paltry voter turnout is to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to register to vote, even though they can't vote until they're 18. Our political insiders aren't so sure that's a good idea.

51% of the Republicans and 48% of the Democrats in our survey say allowing younger voter registration won't do anything to boost turnout, while 57% of our readers think it will.


Selected anonymous comments:


"Anything to boost voter interest and turnout is great. This is just one more symbolic act, though. Focusing on more equal representation of Democrats and Republicans statewide with fairer legislative and congressional districts would really help solve the apathy problem and help shift this state from its single-party domination. That's real change. And just too much to ask, I guess."

"Voting is not influenced by when you get to register. Apathy still exists."

"It may boost turnout but an uninformed electorate is as dangerous as a low turnout. Unfortunately I think it takes just a bit of maturity and wisdom to be an informed voter."

"Rep. Cox is forward thinking by trying to get our youth invested in the process."

"It's never too early to help young people understand the importance of participating in our community or our government. Kudos to Rep. Cox!"

"A far superior idea would be to make civics education mandatory for graduation/senior year."

"It will only increase administrative burden. What a silly idea."

"Time traveling to 18 year old me… Concerns: gas money, which party to go to Saturday, wondering if I can get away with breaking curfew, and voting. All in that order."

"We should be less concerned with voter turnout and more concerned with INFORMED voter turnout."

"How many of these kids will move before they turn 18? How many of these kids will forget that they have registered? The unintended consequences of this bill are too numerous to count."

"The best way to boost voter turnout in Utah would be for the leadership of the LDS Church to strongly tell its membership that it is OK to vote for Democrats as well as Republicans – and follow that up by having some of the General Authorities change their party registration to Democrat. As long as Utah is perceived to be a one-party state, why should voters bother? Republicans and Democrats alike believe they already know what the results will be; no wonder they don't bother to vote."

"High school government classes and PARENTS need to do a better job teaching young people why voting is one of the most important rights we have as Americans. Much is made about teens becoming old enough to drive; voting, not so much."

"Anything that engages Utah voters and may increase voter turnout is a good thing. Utah's voter turnout is shameful."

"This isn't a cure-all, but it will do some good and no harm – therefore a no-brainer. Great idea."

"Why not? We've got military recruiters on campus recruiting them to fight, and we're teaching them to drive at 16. Why not just kick off civic education at the same time and get them registered to vote then?"

"How about you let the districts put civics education back in the curriculum instead, you know, something smart?"

"I am not sure that I see the motivation for 16 and 17 year olds to vote when they are 18 simply be registering early. It may make voting by mail easier because a ballot may go to their home, but at age 18, many of them may be going off to school, serving a mission, entering the military, etc., and their home address may not be where they are living when the next election comes around."

"Teenagers don't plan 5 minutes out, why would asking them to plan 2 years out help turn out?"

"It won't boost anything because neither political party has a political leadership who would invest in it."