Unique law allows teens to preregister to vote

by: Torie Wells Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A unique law passed in 2010 could allow teenagers in North Carolina to make a difference this election. It allows 16- and 17-year-olds to preregister to vote. It also requires registration drives be held in high schools each September.

Research group Democracy North Carolina said this November, more than 60,000 teens will be eligible and registered to vote, thanks in part to this push.

Pali Sikisi is one of those teens.

"We're the future," he said.

Sikisi is working to register others.

"We do have a voice. It's very impactful," he said.

"It means more when it comes peer to peer," said Lacey Williams, youth program director at the Latin America Coalition.

Williams has been working the registration drives since the law went into effect, and she has noticed an interesting trend.

"A vast majority chose no party, leave it blank or chose unaffiliated," she said.

Democracy North Carolina found 30 percent of preregistered teens in the state have signed up Democratic, 30 percent Republican and 39 percent no party affiliation.

"I think it's essential you always keep your mind open to any party," said Sikisi.

"Times change, and I'm not going to tie myself down," said Jared Santiago, a teen who pre-registered to vote and said he didn't chose a party.

Political science expert Michael Bitzer said that means both parties have to work harder to get young people to vote, and vote for them.

He said history shows a voter locked down with a party early likely stays.

Teens can preregister at drives or at the DMV when they get their driver's license. Only a handful of other states have similar laws.