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State Superintendent and Secretary of State Praise New Law For Voter Pre-Registration

LANSING – State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson praised the passage of a new state law allowing 16-year-old high school students in Michigan to pre-register to vote.

“Voting is fundamental to our country, and setting young people on the path of civic engagement is likewise fundamental,” Dr. Rice said. “It’s not only part of their civic responsibility; it’s part of our civic responsibility as adults to encourage them to vote and to participate actively in the important issues of our time.”

“Michigan led the nation in youth voter turnout in the 2022 elections and we are working to build on that progress in 2024,” said Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “This new law helps us prepare the next generation of voters to inherit their democracy, bolstering our state’s commitment to engaging young people, educating them about the democratic process, and getting them ready to cast a ballot once they turn 18. I’m proud of the work we’ve done to energize Michigan’s young voters and look forward to implementing this policy to continue to make elections accessible for everyone.”

The enactment of House Bill 4569, sponsored by State Representative Betsy Coffia (D-Traverse City) and signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, amends the Michigan Election Law to allow for pre-registration of individuals who are at least 16 years old but no older than 17 and a half; requires the Michigan Department of Education to work with the Secretary of State to annually coordinate outreach and education on pre-registration eligibility; and ensures that materials for voter registration and pre-registration to vote are available to students in each public high school in the state.

“This new law will help raise awareness for our young people that voting is easily accessible to them and gives them an opportunity to have their voices heard in a real way,” said State Board of Education President Dr. Pamela Pugh. “Through voting, our next generation can participate in our democracy and make a genuine difference in the community, nation, and world in which they will be living, working, and raising a family.”

A pre-registered individual would be eligible to vote in the first election that occurs on or after the date that the individual turns 18 years old. People who pre-register could participate in early in-person or absentee voting for an election, as long as they will be 18 on or before the date of that election.

“Our history is critical for citizens to know, especially our young people who will be stepping into important decision-making roles in our society,” said Dr. Rice. “One of the best ways to get kids interested in their history is to get them interested in current events, and one of the best ways to get them interested in current events is to give them the opportunity to vote and by extension to get involved. This new law will help get them engaged in our democracy.”

The information in the registration record for an individual who has pre-registered to vote would be confidential and not subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) disclosure or release by a designated voter agency, a clerk, or the Secretary of State until the individual becomes 17 and a half years old, at which point all information contained in their record would be subject to the Michigan Election Law’s current FOIA exemptions.

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