High School and Youth Initiatives

High School and Youth Programs banner

Welcome to the Secretary of State’s High School and Youth Programs portal. This site contains important information about our office’s initiatives to educate and engage young Californians in the democratic process. We invite administrators, teachers, students and parents to use this page as a resource. This portal includes social media infographics, frequently asked questions and links to get young people informed and involved. 

You will find important information about:

pre-register at 16. vote at 18.

Pre-Register at 16. Vote at 18.

Thank you for visiting our Back to School Pre-Registration Toolkit! Along with backpacks, school supplies, and new clothes, 16 and 17 year olds should add pre-registering to vote to their back to school checklist! And this website will help with that.

Our toolkit below contains useful information and social media resources to help spread the word and encourage eligible 16 and 17 year olds to pre-register to vote. We provide access to our new "Our Time is Now" public service announcement (PSA), sample social media posts, and other important resources to educate California students.

Online pre-registration is available for eligible 16 and 17 year olds by visiting registertovote.ca.gov. California youth who pre-register to vote will have their registration become active once they turn 18 years old.

Pre-registration does not change the voting age, which is 18. Instead, it allows eligible Californians ages 16 or 17 to complete the online voter registration form providing sufficient time and opportunity to get ready to vote.

The new online pre-registration applies to California youth who are 16 or 17 and meet the following criteria:

We invite you to view the information below and share it widely with family, friends, neighbors, and students.

 

Photo of Secretary of State Alex Padilla with a group of students holding a sign that read pre-register at sixteen. vote at eighteen
 

Social Media Promotion

Elections Division Contact

Phone Number:
(916) 657-2166

High School Voter Education Weeks

High School Voter Education Weeks

Last two weeks in April and September each year. 

The California Education Code designates the last two full weeks in April and September to be High School Voter Education Weeks. This provides an opportunity for high schools and their students to partner with county elections officials to promote civic education and participation on campus and foster an environment that cultivates lifelong voters and active citizens.

Below is a list of resources to assist with the promotion of these High School Voter Education Weeks.

California Student Mock Elections

California Student Mock Election

Inspiring a New Generation of Voters

 

Young people have the potential to be a powerful force in elections, but only if they get involved and make voting a habit.

To encourage students to become active voters once they are old enough to cast a ballot, Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson invite high school and middle school students, teachers and principals to participate in the California Student Mock Election, which will take place in Fall 2018, for the Gubernatorial General Election.

Working with the California Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools and the Constitutional Rights Foundation, in coordination with the MyVoice National Student Mock Election, the Student Mock Election will stir students' interest in voting by tapping into the excitement of the campaign season. As students learn about the candidates and issues, they discover how government and politics affect every part of their lives. They gain firsthand knowledge of how citizens make their voice heard in our democracy, and experience the power of their votes when they are joined by thousands of California students and millions more across the United States who will vote in student mock elections this year.

If you have questions, please contact the California Student Mock Election Team at myvote@sos.ca.gov or (916) 651-3070.

Student Poll Worker Program

Be a Student Poll Worker

Inspiring a New Generation of Voters

 

Starting at age 16, high school students who are U.S. citizens, maintain a 2.5 grade point average, and have permission from their parent or guardian and school can learn how elections are run while they earn money as a student poll worker on Election Day. Depending on where you live, you may be eligible for a stipend ranging from $65 to $150. To find out what it takes to become a student poll worker and how to sign up, contact your county elections office.

To encourage high school students to serve as poll workers, the Secretary of State invites students, teachers, school activities directors and others to post, email or hand out the High School Poll Worker recruitment flyer (PDF).

Guidance for School Administrators and Teachers

Print Version (PDF)

Thank you for visiting the California Secretary of State’s High School and Youth Initiatives website and for your interest in joining our efforts to increase opportunities for voter registration amongst students across our state.

This guidance will assist you in helping your students learn more about California’s voter registration process. Your students will have varying levels of experience with the electoral process. Some students will come from personal or family backgrounds with an extensive history of civic and electoral engagement while others may not. You play a key role in educating students about the election process and voter registration.

Before asking whether students would like a voter registration form to complete, we recommend that you review with your students the specific criteria required for voter registration. To register to vote in California, you must be:

  • A United States citizen
  • A resident of California
  • 18 years old or older on Election Day (or 16 and 17 years old to pre-register to vote)
  • Not currently in state or federal prison or on parole for the conviction of a felony (for more information on the rights of people who have been incarcerated, please see the Secretary of State's Voting Rights: Persons with a Criminal History)
  • Not currently found mentally incompetent to vote by a court (for more information, please see Voting Rights: Persons Subject to Conservatorship)

In walking students through the eligibility requirements, the following guidance may be helpful in addressing questions your students may have:

  • Students may mistakenly believe that because they are a resident of California that they are also United States citizens—please ensure that students fully understand the citizenship requirements and if students are uncertain as to their eligibility, to refrain from completing a voter registration card until they’ve determined their eligibility.
  • Students may travel out of state, spend time out of the country, or have previously attended school out of state, but if their principal residence is in California, then they are a resident of California for voter registration purposes. If students move and change their principal residence after they have registered, they may update their address by visiting https://registertovote.ca.gov/. Additionally, for students planning to attend college, please visit our website for College Students and Voters Living Abroad at www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting-resources/voting-california/students/
  • Even though students may be enrolled in driver’s education and/or applying for a driving permit at the age of 15½, they must be 16 or 17 years old in order to pre-register (and meet the other eligibility requirements).

Other helpful guidance includes the following:

  • Extra credit or any other incentive must not be offered to students in exchange for them registering to vote or voting in an election.
  • Ensure students understand that the opportunity to register to vote is optional and may be completed at another time, including by visiting the Secretary of State’s mobile-friendly online voter registration tool at https://registertovote.ca.gov/
  • Some students may feel more comfortable completing a voter registration form in a language other than English. The Secretary of State provides translated election information and voter registration in the following languages: Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese. For online voter registration in these nine languages, please visit: https://registertovote.ca.gov/. For translated election information, please visit:
  • If students choose not to register to vote, are ineligible to register to vote, or do not know if they are eligible to vote, they can still get involved in the election process! 
    • Volunteer to Register Other Students to Vote. Your students can still get involved in the election process by registering others to vote and promoting voter registration efforts. There are no eligibility requirements in California for volunteering to register others to vote. However, please note that when registering others to vote, if the volunteer receives the completed voter registration form from the applicant or the applicant requests that the volunteer fill out the form on their behalf (put pen to paper), then the volunteer must complete the section titled, “Did someone help you fill out or deliver this form?” This section requests the volunteer’s signature, name, address, and phone number. 
    • Student Poll Worker Program. Your students may also get involved by becoming a student poll worker.* Eligibility requirements include:
      • Be a United States citizen or legal permanent resident 
      • Be at least 16 years old on Election Day 
      • Attend a public or private high school 
      • Have at least 2.5 grade point average 
      • Get permission from parents and school
      • *Students may also be eligible for a stipend ranging from $65 to $150 and are encouraged to contact their county elections official for more information.

Thank you for your support in increasing voter registration opportunities for students across California.