May 27, 2017 03:00 AM PST
SINCE 2007

Engaging young voters

The Capitol Perspective

As the author of California’s law that allowed nearly 800,000 Californians to register to vote online leading up to the November election, I am making it easier for college students to vote on Election Day.

Last week, I introduced legislation that would require at least one polling place on every University of California and California State University campus. Senate Bill 240 would also encourage polling places on community college campuses when registrars deem there is an adequate demand.

In most cases there is a polling place for every one thousand voters in California; however there are tens of thousands of students on our college campuses who often do not have such easy access to vote. 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.

There are over 230,000 students enrolled within the University of California, with over 20,000 students enrolled at each of the following campuses: Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Diego.

There are over 420,000 students enrolled within the California State University, with over 20,000 students enrolled at each of the following campuses: San Jose, San Diego, San Francisco, Fresno, Pomona, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Long Beach, Fullerton, and Northridge.

“Ensuring that all California public universities provide their students with a polling place would not only make voting accessible, but would instill a healthy habit of civic engagement throughout each generation of students,” said Raymond Parenti-Kurttila of the San Francisco State University Associated Students.

It is critical that students have their voices heard at the ballot box. Not only is the cost of their education at stake, so is the economy and society they will inherit. SB 240 will assure their voices are heard.

Last year, another bill which I authored also had a major impact on young voters. As a result of SB 397, which allowed citizens to register to vote via the internet or a mobile device, California now has over 18 million registered voters of which nearly 800,000 registered online.

In a recent study by the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, from 2000 to 2008, the number of Asian American registered voters statewide increased 51%--the second largest increase of voters among all racial groups. In a separate study by the University of California, Davis Center for Regional Change, there over 1.4 million Asian American registered voters in 2010 in California. While numbers from the 2012 elections have not yet been released, I am certain that the number has risen since the implementation on the online voter registration system.

According to county data tallied by Political Data Inc. (PDI), the state’s largest bipartisan election data firm, 61.5 percent of those who used the online registration system were under age 35 (30.8 percent age 18-24, 30.7 percent age 25-34).

I have also introduced legislation to require a link to the online registration system run by the Secretary of State on every state government website.