Youth Commissioners from six Bay Area cities came to Sacramento for the inaugural Capitol Day to learn about the legislative process and meet with their representatives.
SACRAMENTO—Students and elected officials rallied in support for Assemblymember Evan Low’s proposal to lower the voting age from 18 to 17 in California. The press conference was part of a Capitol Day in which over 30 Youth Commissioners from six Bay Area cities learned about the legislative process and met with their state representatives.
“It is our responsibility to inspire the next generation to become active and informed voters. Lowering the voting age will hook students while they are young, connected to their home towns, and learning about the legislative process,” said Assemblymember Evan Low.
Young voters (ages 18-24 years old) in California have the lowest turnout rate of any age demographic, leaving them drastically underrepresented. In the 2014 general election for instance, only 8.2% of California's eligible youth voted. This is often because many 18 year olds are usually in a time of transition –graduating from high school, going to college, or getting a job. Lowering the voting age to 17 will catch youth at a time when they are still connected to their school, their home, and their community.
Research has shown that the earlier in life one votes, the more likely they are to form a lifelong habit of voting. As a result, there has been a nationwide movement to engage youth earlier in the electoral process.
Currently, eleven states allow 16 year olds to preregister to vote, including California. Twenty two states and the District of Columbia permit 17 year olds to vote in the primary elections or caucuses if the voter will turn 18 before the general election.
Two localities–Takoma Park and Hyattsville, Maryland–have gone even further, and allow 16 year olds to vote in their municipal elections. Takoma Park held its first elections with 16 year olds voting in 2013 and Hyattsville had its first in 2015.
In addition to lowering the voting age, Assemblymember Low authored AB 189 to require the Instructional Quality Commission to create a service learning curriculum, which would teach high school students about civic responsibility. Like community service, students in service learning courses serve in their communities while incorporating the experiences directly in their school work. The bill is in Senate Appropriations.
Assembly Constitutional Amendment 10 has passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee and will be heard next on the Assembly floor. As a constitutional amendment, ACA 10 requires a two-thirds vote of both houses of the state legislature as well as the approval of voters in order to take effect.
Assemblymember Low presented Born This Way Foundation with a resolution commending their commitment to empowering youth and promoting kindness. Visit https://bornthisway.foundation/ for more information.
SACRAMENTO — The California Legislative LGBT Caucus celebrated June 2017 as Pride Month with the adoption of House Resolution 41 during Assembly Floor Session and Senate Resolution 46 during Senate Floor Session on Monday, June 19, 2017. As part of the ceremony, the Caucus honored 10 LGBT individuals and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus in appreciation of their outstanding accomplishments, leadership and activism to help advance equality for the LGBT community. This summer is the 15 year anniversary of the Caucus’s formation and the 48th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which helped launch the LGBT civil rights movement.