Governor Signs Jackson Bill To Encourage Young People To Vote

September 27, 2014

SACRAMENTO – Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill by State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) that will allow voter pre-registration beginning at age 16.
 
Senate Bill 113 will not change the voting age, which is 18. But it will allow young people to fill out the necessary online or paper application to get ready to vote beginning at age 16. They could pre-register online, by mail or at the DMV when they get their driver’s licenses. Pre-registration could also become a part of high school civics classes, taken when students are 16- and 17-years old. Once they turn 18, their registration will become active.
 
“It’s clear we must do more to get young people voting, and one way to do that is to give them sufficient time and ample opportunity to get ready to vote, ” Jackson said. “I am very pleased the Governor has signed this bill into law. Studies show that pre-registration is a powerful way to encourage young people to become lifelong, engaged voters.”
 
The bill was sponsored by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen.
 
Youth aged 18-24 stand out as an age group that is registering at far lower rates than any other age group. Even in the presidential election year of 2012, while nearly 80% of all Californians  registered to vote, only 62% of 18-to-24-year olds were registered.
 
The bill will not take effect until the enactment of VoteCal, California’s new voter registration database, which is expected to be launched in 2016.

Thirteen other states allow voter pre-registration before the age of 18, including Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wyoming. A 2009 George Mason University study found that pre-registration programs in Hawaii and Florida encouraged young people to start voting and keep voting.
 
Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.

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Contact: Lisa Gardiner (916) 202-3857 (cell) or lisa.gardiner@sen.ca.gov