What happens when you turn sixteen? Perhaps you get that sweet sixteen birthday party you’ve been dreaming about, or perhaps you finally! get your driver’s license. But did you know that you might get to do something else when you turn sixteen? In 2016, California passed a law that allows sixteen and seventeen year olds to pre-register to vote. What does that mean? It means that if you’re sixteen, you can register to vote so that when you turn eighteen, you can head straight to the polls on Election Day. Sweet, right?
Well, according to pre-registration numbers in California, over 100,000 sixteen and seventeen year olds think so too because that’s how many have already pre-registered to vote. When Secretary of State Alex Padilla was asked why he thinks there’s a spike in pre-registrations (over 10,000 youth pre-registered just in the last month), he said that “These kids know that to change the political environment and policy, they need to register to vote, and they need to vote.” Other factors, such as recent school tragedies and the activism of high school students in response to these tragedies (it was youth who organized the National School Walkout and March for Our Lives), have played a strong role in rocking the pre-registration vote.
When you’re eligible to pre-register to vote, will you? If so, why? If not, why not? Email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interesting fact: Currently, fourteen states and one district have laws or legislation that allow sixteen and seventeen year olds to pre-register to vote. These states are:
District of Columbia