As millennials have become the largest living generation, approximately 75.4 million people, surpassing the Baby Boomers, the youth vote is now important as ever. Although young people voting has increased over the years, the age range of 18 to 24 years old is still the lowest percentage of voters out of the age groups.
To combat this problem, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 2455 or the Student Voting Act into law. AB 2455 will require the California State University and California Community College systems to provide students with an easy way to register to vote as well as to encourage the University of California to do the same as well. The bill was created when Assemblymember David Chiu held a contest called “There Ought to Be a Law” and two Berkeley students proposed the idea.
“Encouraging young people to vote is good for our democracy. Students represent a significant segment of California’s eligible voting population, yet their voices are not being heard in our elections,” said Assemblymember Chiu in the California Civic Engagement Project newsletter. “Creating a one stop shop so that students can register to vote when they enroll for classes is the first step in getting them to the polls.”
Through this law, young people will be more easily persuaded to hit the voting booths since having to register to vote cannot just be another excuse. The law will focus on students doing their civic duty as well as hope to raise voting rates for young people and overall.
But the Student Voting Act may also prevent voting issues for students since they will register in the county of their school. During the primary elections, many students had trouble voting because they were registered in their permanent address’ county. Students were either able to do a change of address form or told they could only vote in that county.
“I had to register to vote in Yolo county since I used to be registered in Los Angeles,” said fourth-year Psychology major, Michelle Venegas. “It was a bit annoying having to register to vote again and in the end, I was unable to vote in the Primary anyways.”
Unfortunately, the law may have come just a little too late to make an impact in this year’s election. Many college students appeared to be fans of senator Bernie Sanders, however Sanders did not receive enough votes to win the Primary. If students were already registered to vote in a certain county, maybe the outcome could have been a bit different.
“I was a Bernie supporter so I was disappointed that I was unable to vote for him,” Venegas said. “And it was event more disappointing when Hillary won the California Primary.”
As millennials have finally surpassed the Baby Boomers, they could play a pivotal role in this year’s election. But with Sanders out, it will be interesting to see if the youth do want to play a game of pick your poison, by voting this November.