According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 92 percent of teens report going online daily — including 24 percent who say they go online “almost constantly.” With that in mind, California is bringing Muhammad to the mountain by allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote using the state’s online voter registration portal. “Online pre-registration will help more young people vote as soon as they are eligible. Whether they’re at school or at home or hanging out with friends, young Californians can pre-register to vote in just minutes in their smartphone, tablet or laptop,” said Secretary of State Alex Padilla. California is one of 10 states and the District of Columbia that allows 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote and also one of 34 states and the District of Columbia that allows people to register online to vote. As far as we know, it’s the only state that allows those pre-registrants to use the online portal. [Update: Massachusetts and Utah also allow pre-registrants to do so online. Thanks to our alert readers for letting us know!]
In 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 113 by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) which allowed voter pre-registration beginning at age 16 once the California’s statewide voter registration database, VoteCal, was certified.
Pre-registration has been offered on paper voter registration forms since VoteCal was certified in September 2016. Technical upgrades to California’s online voter registration system were required before online pre-registration could be offered.
While there were no additional costs to the state to make this switch, there were some programming changes to VoteCal and the OVR system that needed to be made in order to handle the pre-registrants.