Huffpost Politics

Over Half Of Eligible Youth Voters Unsure If They Are Properly Registered To Vote

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President Obama, here speaking at a Sept. 17 campaign event in Columbus, Ohio, could see less support in 2012 from young voters tripped up by new state voter registration laws. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Obama, here speaking at a Sept. 17 campaign event in Columbus, Ohio, could see less support in 2012 from young voters tripped up by new state voter registration laws. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

For younger, more transient voters, this year's trip to the polls might not be so simple. According to a survey conducted by the nonpartisan voter registration group HeadCount, 52 percent of the youngest individuals first eligible to cast a presidential ballot in 2008 do not know today whether they are registered to vote at their current address, a legal requirement introduced in some states as a part of recent voter ID laws.

Close to 50 percent of the 22- to 26-year-olds surveyed do not know the voter ID requirements in their state, which could keep a significant portion of youth from casting ballots on Nov. 6. It's estimated that over seven million 18- to 22-year-olds participated in the last presidential election.

Since 2008, a slew of states have enacted new laws tightening voter registration and eligibility. The laws not only threaten to hinder voting by up to 11 percent of Americans for lack of proper identification, but also make it difficult for individuals to assess or update their eligibility ahead of Election Day.

Young voters in particular will be affected as they tend to move more frequently without checking to see if they need to re-register or update their photo ID. In the past four years, seven out of 10 of those surveyed had changed residences, yet only 43 percent of those who moved had gone through the process of re-registering.

In 2008, candidate Barack Obama captured 68 percent of the youth vote, a feat that some consider critical to his success in key swing states and the overall election.

That year, John Della Volpe, director of polling at the Harvard University Institute of Politics, heralded the youth vote for "turning states that [Obama] would've lost or barely won into more comfortable margins." More recently, he's been concerned that the millennials are choosing political disengagement in greater numbers.

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