Schools to teach voting process & rights, and offer voter pre-registration to students
April 14, 2016 (San Francisco) – The SF Board of Education adopted a resolution this week specifying ways the school system will better prepare youth to vote.
The resolution cited a 2009 study conducted by George Mason University, which examined voter pre-registration programs in Hawaii and Florida and found that pre-registration, when combined with civic education, had positive long-term effects on young people's voting behavior.
Currently, 16-year-old San Francisco residents are allowed to pre-register to vote.
The Board resolution urges every high school American Democracy class teach the voting process as well as the significant political parties in San Francisco. It also requires schools to provide students the forms necessary to pre-register.
The resolution was co-authored by Board Commissioners Sandra Lee Fewer and Rachel Norton, along with Student Delegates Teresia Chen and Miguel Tantiado.
“The average voting age is 46 years old,” said Fewer. “We need more young people involved in the political process. SFUSD has the potential to register 4,000 new voters every year.”
“Studies have shown that voting is habitual. The earlier someone casts their first vote, the more likely they are to be a lifelong voter," added Commissioner Norton.
Voter registration activities at schools will be structured so that students who do not meet the voter eligibility criteria in California may still participate in class work and activities, and without disclosing their eligibility status.
The resolution further stipulated that school staffs promote diversity by appointing student leaders for each grade level who would facilitate civic engagement at their school site leadership meetings.
Earlier this year, the San Francisco Board of Education endorsed a proposed a City charter amendment that would allow 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote in San Francisco elections.
Page updated on 04/14/16