California Media Relations Manager
Sacramento, CA--Last Thursday, AB 30 (Price) was passed by the California state Assembly. If enacted, the bill would make great strides toward engaging the youth of California by lowering the voter registration age to 16.
"Voter registration is the very heart of the democratic process and this bill has the potential to connect young people in California to the political process," said Steven Hill, Director of New America's Political Reform Program. "We commend the Assembly for passing this important bill." Approximately 7 million Californians who are eligible to vote are not currently registered, with young people 18-24 years old disproportionately impacted.
AB 30 will create an option for high school students who are 16 years or older to pre-register to vote (sometimes known as "advance" registration). When these students turn 18, their registration will automatically become active. AB 30 would allow young people to be involved in the democratic process at an earlier age and make it more likely that they will remain engaged as they become adults. It would allow high schools to be an institution geared toward involving young people and facilitating peer to peer political networking. Websites like Facebook and MySpace have shown how young people respond positively to social networking opportunities, and this bill would help facilitate that in high schools.
"Research has demonstrated that developing good 'political engagement' habits early on in life are the best predictor of participation as an adult," said Hill. "AB 30 will help break the 'disengagement cycle' that often prevents young people from developing habits of participation that carry over into their adult years."
This bill is based on a signature idea from the New America Foundation's Political Reform Program. Registration is one of the largest barriers to voting. Citizens often become energized by candidates or issue campaigns in the last weeks of an election only to find they are not registered to vote or are not registered at their current addresses. Lowering the voter registration age would improve civic engagement and political participation.
About the New America Foundation
The New America Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute that invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States.