California lawmakers push bills to get more youths to the polls

A group of students walk through Sather Gate on the UC Berkeley campus.
(Eric Risberg / Associated Press)

A surge in young voters, enabled by the start of online voter registration, helped Democrats win supermajorities in both houses of the state Legislature in November.

Now Democratic lawmakers have brought in a raft of new bills aimed at getting more young people to the polls in the future.

Two bills have been introduced that would require some polling places to be located on campuses of the California State University, University of California and California Community Colleges systems.


“SB 240 will help encourage our young people to vote and provide them the same access to our democracy as voters who live outside of campus,” said Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), who wrote one of the bills. Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) introduced the other bill.

In addition, Assemblyman Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco) introduced a state constitutional amendment would allow 17-year-olds to vote in primaries if they will be 18 by the next general election.

“The goal of this legislation is to increase voter participation,” Mullin said in a statement. “Most young people’s first contact with politics is in their mandatory high school civics class; this is the perfect time to get them engaged and give them some ownership in the process by getting them to vote in primaries.”

Mullin said ACA 7 is identical to a proposal introduced by his father, former Assemblyman Gene Mullin, that failed to get the two-thirds vote needed in the Legislature.


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