L.A. City Council unanimously supports voter registration for 16 and 17 year olds

Hey, kids – if you’re 14 years old in two years you may be able to pre-register to vote! But don’t get too excited… you’d still have to wait until you’re 18 to actually vote.

On Tuesday the L.A. City Council unanimously voted to support Assembly Bill 1819 which would allow persons at least 16 years old to pre-register to vote, so long as they meet all other voter requirements.

Pre-registration would encourage student engagement in high school civic classes, increase youth participation in political campaigns, and, hopefully improve on California’s rank as “36th in the nation for turnout among young voters.”

Councilman Richard Alarcon presented the measure to City Council. According to Becca Doten, Alarcon’s director of communications, if the bill passes it would not go into effect until 2010, the anticipated date when Secretary of State Debra Bowen “certifies a new voter registration database that will have the capability for pre-registration built-in.”

Full press release after the jump…

FOR RELEASE: CITY COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY PASSES ALARCÓN MOTION TO SUPPORT VOTER PRE-REGISTRATION FOR 16 & 17 YEAR OLDS

For Immediate Release
May 27, 2008

IN A YEAR WITH STRONG INCREASES IN YOUNG VOTER TURNOUT, THE LA CITY COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY PASSES ALARCÓN MOTION TO SUPPORT AB 1819 (PRICE) WHICH ALLOWS 16 & 17 YEAR OLDS TO PRE-REGISTER TO VOTE

Los Angeles, CA – Today the Los Angeles City Council unanimously supported a motion introduced by Los Angeles City Councilmember Richard Alarcón to support Assembly Bill 1819. AB 1819, authored by Assemblymember Curren D. Price, Jr., allows a young person to pre-register to vote after they turn 16 years old if the registrant otherwise meets the all the requirements to register to vote.

Under the provisions in AB 1819, a person of at least 16 years of age would complete the same registration as any other person, but the registration would not be effective until the voter turned 18. Once a voter would be 18 years old by the time of the next election, his or her registration is activated and the voter would receive a sample ballot and other election materials for the first election in which he or she would be eligible to vote.

“This year we have seen increased turnout out of young voters in every state across the nation and AB 1819 will help continue the momentum and enthusiasm for civic participation here in California,” said Councilmember Alarcón. “This isn’t about partisanship – this is about creating a vibrant, thriving Democracy where young people will not have to wait until they turn 18 to sign up to vote, but can pre-register during their civics classes where they will also learn about the importance of participating in the American Democracy and why their vote matters.”

Assemblymember Curren Price said, “AB 1819 is a bill that will help engage California youth in our government and ultimately strengthen the election process. I am deeply honored that Councilmember Alarcón and the LA City Council shares my desire to get this historic legislation passed and I am grateful that the City Council is in support of AB 1819.”

According to the Secretary of State, more than 7.2 million eligible voters in California are not registered to vote – which is equivalent to nearly one-third of California’s eligible voters. Young voter participation is even lower, with approximately forty-five percent of eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 24 not registered to vote. California ranks just 36th in the nation for turnout among young voters. Research shows that young people who get involved in the political process at a young age are much more likely to become lifelong voters, so facilitating participation by younger voters can have positive long-term effects on overall voter participation.

To minimize the costs of AB 1819, the bill would not be effective until the Secretary of State certifies a new voter registration database that will have the capability for pre-registration built-in. Currently nine other states currently permit pre-registration by individuals. Support for AB 1819 includes Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Common Cause, the Greenlining Institute and the New America Foundation.

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