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Politics & Government

Bill Aims to Get More Young People to the Polls in Wisconsin

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Young people in Wisconsin vote at a much lower rate than the rest of the population

A Milwaukee Democrat is hoping to increase the number of young people who vote.

State Rep. Mandela Barnes' bill would let 16- and 17-year-olds pre-register to vote when they apply for a driver's license or state ID card. Then, when they turn 18, the state would automatically add them to the voting rolls.

Mike Wilder is co-chairman of the African-American Civic Engagement Roundtable in Milwaukee. He says similar laws in other states have helped increase voter participation among young people.

"The bottom line is this is a group that is the lowest turnout group in voting. And so this encourages this group, from 18 to 30, to go out and vote and exercise their civic duty," he says.

A local official wants the take the idea further. Milwaukee County Supervisor Khalif Rainey sponsored an advisory referendum asking the state Legislature to allow 16- and 17-year olds to vote in local school board elections.

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