SACRAMENTO – As part of National Voter Registration Month, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla today launched an online Back to School Pre-Registration Toolkit. The toolkit includes a new “Our Time is Now” PSA video urging 16- and 17- year olds to pre-register to vote as well as sample social media posts, downloadable posters and brochures, and useful links for school districts to share with students.
“Along with backpacks, new clothes and school supplies, 16- and 17-year-olds should add pre-registration to their back to school checklists,” said Secretary of State Alex Padilla. “Since we launched in March, nearly 20,000 students have pre-registered to vote online at registertovote.ca.gov. As the school year begins, I encourage school districts statewide to use our online toolkit to inform students about the importance of pre-registration and civic engagement.”
Pre-registration does not change the voting age, which is still 18. Instead, it allows eligible Californians ages 16 or 17 to complete the online voter registration form, so that they will be automatically registered to vote as soon as they turn 18.
“This is a terrific opportunity for educators to talk with high school students about the critical importance of voting, prepare them to participate in elections, and preregister online,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who started his public service career as a high school teacher and coach. “Working together, we can educate and encourage our young citizens to register to vote and turn out at the polls to ensure their voices are heard in 2017 and beyond.”
Online pre-registration is available to California youth who are 16 or 17 and meet the following criteria:
- A United States citizen,
- A resident of California,
- Not currently imprisoned or on parole for the conviction of a felony (for more information on the rights of people who have been incarcerated, please see the Secretary of State’s Voting Rights for Californians with Criminal Convictions or Detained in Jail or Prison), and
- Not prohibited from voting by a court because of mental incompetency (for more information, please see Voting Rights: Persons Subject to Conservatorship).
16- and 17-year-olds who do not have a signature on file with the DMV, through a driver license or state ID card, will need to complete the pre-registration process by printing a paper form and mailing it to their county elections office. Applicants will be sent confirmation when their voter pre-registration application is processed, or they will be contacted if more information is needed to confirm their eligibility.
Secretary Padilla and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson sent a letter to California school officials declaring the last two weeks of September High School Voter Education Weeks.
The National Association of Secretaries of State established National Voter Registration Month in September as a nonpartisan means of encouraging voter participation and increasing awareness about state requirements and deadlines for voting. Secretary Padilla also supports the independently-organized National Voter Registration Day effort, which will be held on September 26, 2017.