Our democracy rests on a foundation of checks and balances, the rule of law, and citizen participation. The education community is responsible for making sure young people understand the importance of this foundation. With that in mind, the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) is highlighting the California High School Voter Education Weeks.
State Superintendent Tom Torlakson and Secretary of State Alex Padilla are collaborating to promote a two-week period—September 18–29—set aside in the California Education Code to put more students on the path to a lifetime of civic engagement and voting. Voter pre-registration is available for 16- and 17-year-olds. Once pre-registered, they will automatically become active voters when they turn 18.
SCOE encourages high school teachers and administrators to make the High School Voter Education Weeks part of their school’s civic engagement activities this year. Teachers can help eligible students pre-register or register to vote with a paper form or online. Printed voter registration applications are available at the local county elections office, Department of Motor Vehicles, and post office.
“We really need our young people to get involved. By organizing registration drives at their schools, they can learn valuable leadership skills,” said David W. Gordon, Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools. “We encourage students to remind their school peers and friends on social media to pre-register to vote.”
The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement determined that only about half of registered voters aged 18–29 voted in the 2016 presidential election. With local elections taking place around the state in 2017, and gubernatorial elections in 2018, it’s important to ensure that students learn to become active and engaged participants in our democracy.