California teens could submit paperwork to get on the state’s voter rolls three years before they are allowed to cast a ballot under legislation introduced this week. Senate Bill 113, by Democratic Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, would let Californians “preregister” to vote at age 15, giving the state the nation’s youngest minimum age for submitting an affidavit of registration. While the teens would not be able to vote until turning 18, the Santa Barbara Democrat said she hopes the change would increase the number of active voters by linking the “positive experience” of getting a learner’s permit at the Department of Motor Vehicles with registering to vote. Teens could also use the state’s new online registration system under the measure, which is sponsored by Secretary of State Debra Bowen.
“We really need to have people at all ages voting and voting in large numbers, and it also encourages more lifelong engaged voters so we end up with a vibrant and healthy democracy,” Jackson said.
Bowen touted the proposal as a way to motivate more Californians to vote regularly, saying in a statement that giving teens “the opportunity to preregister will be a powerful tool in getting them hooked on democracy.”