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Voting Education Week for High School Students

The California Education Code has designated the last two full weeks in April and September to be High School Voter Education Weeks. This year the ABC Unified School District held early voter registration for all high school students 16 years of age and older.  This provides an opportunity for high schools and their students to partner with county elections officials to promote civic education and participation on campus and foster an environment that cultivates lifelong voters and active citizens.

Pre-registration does not change the voting age, which is 18, instead it allows eligible Californians ages 16 or 17 to complete the online voter registration form providing sufficient time and opportunity to get ready to vote.

Directory of Secondary Schools, Dr. Rhonda Buss took time to explain the process, “We are emphasizing civic learning and responsibility. We are a society that needs people to understand their roles as responsible citizens. Within that you have the right and responsibility to vote. In the U.S. History and Civics / Economics classes in all the high schools, we are talking about what it means to be civic ready.”

There is an online process that allows school districts to teach students how to register to vote, “If students are 16 or 17 years of age they can pre-register and if they are 18 they can register to vote,” says Buss, “Of course this is completely voluntary and they don’t have to pre-register, but at least the method of how to register is familiar to them.”

When a student pre-registers, on their 18th birthday they are automatically registered. High School juniors take US History and all seniors take Civics / Economic classes.

“The information was sent to us by Tom Torlakson, who said this is something that you might want to consider as an opportunity,” says Buss, “There is a tool kit that accompanies the procedure and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti supports this.”

The tool kit includes a video, posters and flyers, pre-registration brochure and social media promotional material.

“As we approach the upcoming November 6 statewide general election, it is important to ensure that our students are learning to become active and engaged participants in our democracy.   It is never too early to motivate our students to get involved, notes Buss,” That’s why the ABC USD strongly encouraged high school students to observe High School Voter Education Week, September 17 – 28 in an effort to put students on the path to a lifetime of civic engagement and voting.”

With online preregistration available for 16 and 17 year olds, it’s now easier than ever to get students prepared to cast their own ballots. Secretary of State, Alex Padilla states, “With county elections officials as partners, we provide resources to make it easy for schools to participate. Teachers can help eligible students pre-register or register to vote either on a paper form or online. Voter outreach coordinators can lead registration drives and other school activities aimed at civic participation.”

A student Mock Election Day will take place on October 9, “This is a terrific opportunity for educators and their students to get excited about voting and learn more about their roles in our democratic process,” noted Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, “I encourage everyone to participate. Get out there and vote!”

For more information visit www.registertovote.ca.gov