Lorena Gonzalez Wants to Educate All California High School Students on How Voting Works

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Voter Pre-Registration in High Schools is No Longer Enough

SACRAMENTO – (Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020) – California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D - San Diego) today re-introduced legislation to increase youth voter education, registration and turnout by requiring public high schools to empower students with the information and resources they need to understand the mechanics of voting.

“Many new voters have never had a family experience of being electorally engaged. We should provide students with the skills necessary to be involved citizens,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said. “It’s no longer enough to simply register young voters. We need to literally teach young people how to vote and demystify the entire electoral process, county by county.”

Assembly Bill 1913
recognizes that preregistering high school students to vote is an important component of creating lifelong voters, but that it lacks an instructional component that would help prepare students to vote. The measure would support this increasingly enthusiastic demographic of voters, especially students who are the children of immigrants, by requiring school districts to coordinate with county elections officials in developing a course on voter registration.

Most young voters learn how to vote by watching their parents participate in the process, but due to recent demographic changes in California, many young Californians come from families in which no one has ever voted or may not be eligible to vote.

A 2017 report by the Public Policy Institute of California found immigrant Latino and Asian American families register at lower rates compared to other demographic groups, leading to an overall decline in California’s registration rate compared to states where populations of eligible voters are not changing as quickly.

In the last general election, young voters experienced a significant increase in eligible voter turnout over the previous midterm in 2014, according to the California Civic Engagement Project, accounting for the highest share of any California statewide midterm general election since at least 2002.

Since 2014, California high schools have been encouraged to create opportunities for students to preregister to vote, with a particular focus of providing voter outreach opportunities during High School Voter Education Weeks (designated as the last two weeks of April and September). AB 1913 would instead make January and September High School Voter Education Months.

Under AB 1913, all students would learn the basic mechanics of voting, including: voter eligibility requirements; how to register and preregister to vote; an individual’s voting rights; where to find official, nonpartisan election and voter information; how to find a voting location and what to expect when you get there; and how to complete a ballot through various voting methods.

AB 1913 would require the Secretary of State, in coordination with the Superintendent of Public Instruction, to develop educational programming that would be presented to 12th grade students during High School Voter Education Months. The bill would also ensure that every public high school senior has the opportunity to preregister to vote if they are eligible.

For questions on AB 1913 or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez, contact Sami Gallegos (209) 658-7617.