Did you know that 16- and 17-year-olds in California can now preregister to vote? According to California’s Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, more than 100,000 teenagers have already done so. This comes in the wake of a nationwide tide of youth activism over gun control that now has young people ready to take their collective power to the polls.
“We are seeing the impact that young people can have when they stand up and engage,” Padilla said in a statement. “Since California launched pre-registration, 100,000 soon-to-be voters have answered the call to participate in their democracy. As Secretary of State, I want to do all we can to encourage civic engagement among our youth.”
According to the Huffington Post, young voters nationwide consistently have some of the lowest election turnouts of any age bracket. Studies have shown preregistration can help boost their numbers. A 2014 Duke University study found states that have introduced preregistration laws typically see an increase of youth voter turnout by an average of 2 to 13 percentage points. California is one of 13 states, along with the District of Columbia, that allow citizens as young as 16 years old to preregister to vote, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. This preregistration process allows youth to become automatically eligible to vote when they turn 18.
California youth who preregister to vote will have their registration become active once they turn 18 years old. Preregistering allows 16- and 17-year-olds to complete the online voter registration form (www.registertovote.ca.gov), providing sufficient time and opportunity to get ready to vote.
So, if you are the parent, grandparent, relative or friend of a teenager, please encourage preregistration. These young people have the potential to save our democracy. For more information, go to www.sos.ca.gov/elections/pre-register-16-vote-18