Young people in California are rushing to the polls. In 2016, California began allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to preregister to vote. Recently, more and more young people have been registering and hopefully those results will be evident this November. Over 400,000 16-17-year-olds have preregistered to vote and many advocacy groups hope that over 500,000 will be registered by November. But it is very important to wonder what got us here in order to hopefully allow other states to follow, and engage their youth.
An integral part of increasing voter preregistration rates was making the process more accessible to young people. The best way to go about this was by making voter preregistration available online. High school students are oftentimes extremely busy and many may not have had the time or transportation to actually attend a preregistration clinic. Now, it only takes a few minutes to preregister to vote online and people are encouraged to engage in our democracy from a young age.
Even when young people have access to this preregistration, the largest driving factor in this increase would be the uptick of political engagement among young people. From the “March For Our Lives” to last week’s climate strike, recent years have seen a huge increase in social movements spearheaded by high school students. Even if most students aren’t organizing these large scale events, the culture has truly changed and seems to encourage engagement rather than apathy.
This November will be the truest indicator as to whether the preregistration will have a large impact on turnout for young voters. However, these policies are a step in the right direction to encourage anyone who is able to engage in their government.