In California, there is currently an effort to promote civic education among young adults to create lifelong voters. In a joint letter by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and State Superintendent of Instruction Tom Torlakson written to educational leaders on August 17, 2017, both encouraged the last two weeks of April and September be reserved “High School Voter Education Weeks” and also authorized “schools to designate students as voter outreach coordinators” by partnering with county elections officials.
Furthermore, the California Education Code (EDC § 49040) was amended in 2015 to read, “(a) The last two full weeks in April and the last two full weeks in September shall be known as “high school voter education weeks,” during which time persons authorized by the county elections official shall be allowed to register students and school personnel on any high school campus in areas designated by the administrator of the high school, or his or her designee, which are reasonably accessible to all students. (b) This section does not preclude a person from registering to vote students and school personnel on a high school campus as is otherwise permitted by the Elections Code. (Amended by Stats. 2014, Ch. 131, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2015.)”
On Tuesday August 15, 2017, the San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD) proposed a resolution in support of the California High School Voter Education Weeks in correlation to what the state legislature adopted.
School board member Gwen D. Rodgers, who requested this resolution be introduced stated,“If the goal is to continue to improve the next generations, then we must educate as soon as possible! This is why I am in support of early voting education for the youth so they are better informed citizens when they are able to vote.”
According to the resolution proposed by the SBCUSD, it stated that September 17-30, 2017 be designated for students “to participate in programs and activities that help register eligible students to vote, while encouraging others to become informed citizens committed to being active voters once they reach voting age.”
During the August 5, 2017 school board meeting, I and three other community leaders spoke in favor of the resolution but proposed several amendments similar to the resolution California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has on his website. Board members chose to postpone this resolution to the following board meeting September 5, 2017 to have time to align with the state’s program.
Vice President of the school board, Abigail Medina said she supports a resolution like this noting, “Students need to get engaged at an earlier age. We do drug-free weeks; we should be doing similar outreach for voter registration and education.”
Luckily, the district has managed to implement one of the requests from the Secretary of State, providing a voter registration link on its website.
On Tuesday September 5, 2017 the school board adopted an amended resolution including the information about pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds and the last two weeks of September and April as the official “High School Voter Education” weeks.
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