Welcome to another episode of the AccessLocal.Tv Podcast. On this show, the Neighborhood News Correspondents are talking about the upcoming elections and the importance of the youth vote. Their comments and opinions may surprise you! Feel free to chime in with your thoughts on the discussion in the comment section below!
Over the past few years in California, youth seem to be getting more interested in politics. With that in mind, the state has started an initiative to get youth involved in voting. The way it works is that public schools now have signed up forms for young people to pre-register to vote at. All one needs to have is a state ID to get registered. It’s hoped that this will get young people more interested in voting and in politics. Instagram has partnered with TurboVote to make voter registration as easy as they possibly can. They are using stories and posts in feeds to get youth interested in the voting process, and with youth spending lots of time on social media this is seen as a good campaign. A sticker on Instagram has a link to the pre-registration website meaning that it will only take a couple of minutes to get a young person registered.
“While you are still in school you have the time to research politics,” says Matthew Risley, a 17-year-old Sacramento resident. “When you have full-time employment you have less time to be a part of politics.”
It can be hard to get involved with politics while you have school and you have to study for tests. But for today’s youth who are on Instagram, pre-registration just got a whole lot easier.
According to a recent poll commissioned by Power California, 72% of California youth aged 18 to 24 say they “definitely will” vote in November but only 16% of that same age group voted in the June primaries. This causes many to wonder what is causing this disconnect with youth and voting.
Many young people have their own opinions on voting, and it’s not that they aren’t politically aware, it’s just that many have lost faith in the system or simply don’t know what steps to take to be registered to vote.
“If Hillary and Trump were running again, no I wouldn’t vote, politics are just messed up on both sides,” says 16-year-old William Oosterman of Sacramento.
Youth voter turnout is also an issue that needs to be confronted. In the Power California Polls, around 70% of the youth who voted in the June primary said they were contacted by email or text reminding them to vote. But just reminding young people to vote isn’t always enough.
Young voters need to connect to the candidates and issues they are voting for. Increasingly, more and more youth are supporting groups like Black Lives Matter and are the majority of attendees at protests and boycotts. When a candidate speaks out about an issue that matters to them, an increased number of younger voters show up to the polls.
“Yes I would vote!” says Mason Johnson, a young potential voter in California. “People’s opinions can potentially change the future of the country.”
It is the future of the country that young people are worried about and have set out to change. Some, like Johnson, have not lost hope and continue to fight for a country they can be proud of. Others no longer believe voting has a purpose. Voter education and contact, such as reminders, are just some steps that need to be taken to increase voter turnout among youth.
Voting in California is changing. In 2016, the State of California passed the “California Voter’s Choice Act” which currently allows some counties to conduct elections under a new model that is supposed to provide greater flexibility and convenience for voters. In 2018, every registered voter in Madera, Napa, Nevada, San Mateo, and Sacramento counties will be mailed a ballot twenty-eight days before Election Day. Voters will have three options to return their ballot – they can mail it, they can drop in off in one of several county ballot drop boxes, or they can visit any vote center in their county. The traditional polling place in the participating counties will be replaced by new vote centers. Voters may cast their ballot at any vote center in their county instead of going to just one designated polling location. Vote centers have also been provided additional features to make voting easier and more convenient, such as voting by using an accessible voting machine, getting help and voting material in multiple languages, and registering to vote or updating their voter registration on-site.
In 2018, 14 counties were offered to conduct elections under the Voter’s Choice Act model: Calaveras, Inyo, Madera, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Shasta, Sierra, Sutter, and Tuolumne received permission from the Secretary of State’s office. All other counties not previously mentioned in California will adopt the Voter’s Choice Act in 2020.
California’s Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, has worked with election experts, disability and language experts, and elections administrators in order to implement the Voter’s Choice Act. Padilla is also participating with the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials to coordinate the technical, logistical, and legal requirements of this new law.
“I think what’s most important to keep in mind is nothing in the Voter’s Choice Act changes the existing options that are available,” stated Dean Logan, President of CACEO. “You still have the option to vote in person, you still have the option to vote by mail; now you just have more availability, more locations, more days, more hours.”
On an additional note, California residents who are sixteen and seventeen years old can now pre-register online to vote. Once someone has pre-registered and meets all of the standards of California voter registration, their registration becomes automatically active on their 18th birthday. To pre-register, visit registertovote.ca.gov.
Many people see the criminal justice system as a necessity for any well-functioning society. But in recent years, the system has been under scrutiny from many communities in America. Locally, the different neighborhoods of Sacramento have come out to express concerns about how the justice system has affected them. One such event to voice those concerns was held at the Fruitridge Elementary School on July 29th. The “It’s Our Time” community forum seeked to help educate people about government reinvestment into their own community instead of the prison system. They aimed to accomplish this through statistics and personal stories.
A few dozen people attended the events. It was an ethnically diverse event with mostly African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-American and White people in attendance. Most of the people who attended had some experience with the prison system. Some have been in prison for decades while other have family members who went to prison. Everyone had something to say about how the criminal justice system has affected their lives.
“[The purpose of this event is to] talk with the community about the impact of criminal justice so we can work together to make a change in the criminal justice system,” said Pastor Dee Emmert, manager of the event. “It helps the community because our voices individually are not strong but when we come together we are a force to be reckoned with. [We are] also informing our community how they can vote and how they can have an impact on their community.”
Voting was one of the major themes of the event. People were givens flyers with the contact information of their community representatives such as the Sheriff and District Attorney. They were highly encouraged to call, email, and contact their representatives in any way possible to voice their opinions. People were also educated on what their rights are within the criminal justice system, particularly for parolees. In the end, many resources were given to the attendees on how to improve their community and themselves.
Young people in California ages 16 and 17 now have the ability to pre-register to vote online. Previously, teens could only pre-register by filling out paperwork forms and mailing them in or by handing it into the county election office.
The process of pre-registering is very simple and can be done without the help of a parent or guardian. The questions that are required are likely general knowledge.
A signature is needed in order to complete the registration. The person registering may need to print out the form, sign it, and mail it in. However, if the person has a state ID or driver’s license, the Department of Motorized Vehicles will send in the signature from the ID or license.
But why does it matter that teens can now pre-register online?
91% of teenagers report using mobile devices to go online, while only 6.5% of teens are licensed drivers. Because teens have better accessibility to the internet, versus the ability to drive themselves to election offices or post offices, this hopefully will increase the amount of pre-registered voters, and thus represent the youth more in voting polls.
“I feel like (voting online is) going to be a much faster way of registering/voting,” said Katherine Alestra, a 14-year-old who wants to pre-register to vote. “You can go anywhere with WiFi and be able to do what you need to without the responsibility of going to a specific location.”
This will not make teens pre-register but will allow them to register easier if they wanted to. Hopefully, with easier pre-registration, they will be more inclined to vote by the time they are 18.
If we look back at this election there have been countless news articles, polls, and studies that have explained how voters younger than 35 believe Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are two extreme versions of corruption, bigotry, and status quo. However, it is still important for millennials to vote because there are many local races and propositions that will affect our everyday lives. There are exactly seventeen measures that have been placed before California voters this election cycle. For the majority of millennials, we won’t even have a clear understanding of the ballot come Election Day because we are blinded by this Presidential chaos. Some of these propositions are amazing, ridiculous, crucial, while others are deceptive. All are important to consider, as always because all elections matter.
Let’s just look at three propositions that I find to be some of the most important.
First, Prop 64. “Marijuana Legalization”: The legal age for usage would be 21. Restrictions are similar to that of alcohol and tobacco usage. Sales would of course be taxed heavily. Some exemptions in the tax are present for medical marijuana usage but we already have it legal in California. What’s interesting is that the tax is not going to the state general fund, but rather into prevention and cleanup programs related to marijuana usage. According to voterguide.org, after the regulatory agency takes what it needs to fund itself, the taxes would go 60% to youth programs, including substance use disorder education, prevention, and treatment to clean up and prevent environmental damage from illegal growing. It will also create programs designed to reduce DUI and a grant program to reduce impacts on public health and safety from this measure. It would reduce sentences for marijuana-related crimes. So people currently incarcerated for many marijuana offenses could have their sentences reduced or overturned, and there would be thousands of fewer arrests in the future. I think legalizing marijuana is important, to help end a lot of unnecessary harassment from police authorities so I will vote Yes on Prop 64.
Second, Prop 55. “Tax Extension to Fund Education and Healthcare”: Would extend the Prop 30 raise taxes on the rich to help fund education and healthcare. I’m not affected by this, except in the positive to have more healthcare and education funding. And neither is anyone else earning less than $250,000. This is not a tax increase; the tax increase already was approved. Failure to approve this would be a benefit to the rich, and a loss of funding to education and healthcare. So clearly I will be voting Yes on Prop 55.
Lastly, Prop 63. “Firearms and Ammunition Sales”: This bill regulates ammunition similar to the firearms that use them. This will require dealers to have licenses, buyers to prove they are allowed to purchase it, and provides a ban on firearms with high-capacity magazines. It also changes reporting requirements for stolen ammunition and/or firearms, and increases the penalty for theft of firearms to a felony. It’s actually a very complicated measure with a lot of minor changes being made to firearm laws. All I know for sure is that it aims to reduce gun violence in our state. I am voting YES.
So no matter how you may feel about the Presidential Election still vote for who you think is the best person. Don’t forget that there are still more major issues that can affect you directly in your community. Make sure you study your voter’s pamphlet or research online.
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek”. – Barack Obama
With voting day swiftly approaching, it’s good to sometimes take a step back and consider what is important to you again as a voter, as a citizen. You are the one who gets to be a part of history. You are the one who gets to take a stand, a side, and help decide which direction your country will go in and who you want as your leader to represent all of America. Voting is important because without votes, there is no decision. And your vote counts, your decision towards a certain future and a certain leader is vital to the continuous growth of our nation and where we stand in the rest of the world and how the world will function in times of crisis.
Personally, what’s important to me as a voter is genuineness. As long as a leader or government is honest and only doing what they think is right for the majority of the people, that is what I find important in electing a president. Someone who is strong and always looking out for the people and the best interest of the country. They don’t have to be perfect and they don’t necessarily need to always make the best decisions, as long as they have good intentions, aren’t doing anything for any selfish reasons, and as long as it does not bring harm to anyone. And these go without saying for any propositions or laws being passed as well. As long as everything is for the sake and benefit of helping the majority in some way shape or form and there is no malice behind it for other people in power, then those are the ideals and people that I will vote for.
Whatever you decide to do and to vote on this upcoming Tuesday, just always think to yourself what is important to you. After all, your decision helps to influence the shape and direction of the United States and of your local community for years to come.
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.
Turning 16 may no longer just mean the right of passage for young people to get their driver’s license. Soon, turning 16 could also mean the right to vote. The Greenlining Institute has joined a growing list of advocacy organizations in the effort to expand voting rights to 16 and 17-year-olds. New legislation that’s in the works aims to allow 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote to vote in their local school board and community college board elections.
“I think they’re mature enough and they have firsthand experience of what’s going on in schools – they should have a voice in it,” says Assembly woman Lorena Gonzalez. “The decisions that are made at local school boards and community college boards are affecting them probably more than anything else.” Gonzalez and advocacy groups see the importance of allowing Californians under the legal age to have the right to participate in issues that affect them directly.
“Yes, I would vote. My education is important to me and as well as others. We are the world’s future” Ivan Caballero a student of Sacramento’s John F. Kennedy High School. “(Teens voting) seems like it could work. This could expose them to something that could possibly give them a feeling of having their voice heard.”
Many feel that young people at the age of sixteen have already developed a great deal of maturity and responsibilities from getting their first job, obtaining a license, or having taken an array of history courses that deal with government and law. That’s why some students believe they should also have the ability to vote on issues that matter to them.
“Not giving a student a voice makes them feel trapped and useless”, says Caballero.
Proponents believe strongly that allowing students to vote on small-scale elections will generate greater interest, promote political participation, allow young people to be informed, and putting direct youth issues onto the political agenda. Lorena Gonzalez’s office says they still don’t know exactly when the legislation will be heard, but are hoping soon.