The following is a press release issued by the Mendocino County Office of Education:
The trustees of the board for the Mendocino County Office of Education (MCOE) voted to continue MCOE’s longstanding collaboration with the League of Women Voters of Mendocino County (LWVMC) by volunteering to compile 4,000 voter information packets for students ages 16 and older to promote civic engagement. The MCOE board decision came just days before California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced High School Voter Registration Weeks during the last two weeks in April.
This non-partisan project is intended to encourage students’ civic engagement, initially by increasing voter registration among high school seniors. It will not include support for any political campaigns or specific legislation.
The packet is a “gift” to celebrate new voters and build on civic education that occurs in schools by engaging young people in the electoral process—encouraging them to register to vote and teaching them to register their peers. Packets contain a student-designed button, a pocket U.S. Constitution, and a wallet card with relevant civic engagement links.
LWVMC Co-President Cindy Plank said, “We want to make voter registration a rite of passage for all students. Our hope is that it will be easy to keep this information handy and students will find themselves checking those sources often, and sharing information with their friends and family. The Mendocino County Board of Education’s commitment to expand and provide materials for students ages 16 and above is wonderful.”
Research indicates that the preparation many young people receive to become informed voters is inadequate, leading to significant variations in voting rates by race and ethnicity, educational attainment, and other socioeconomic and demographic factors. Voting 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.
County Superintendent of Schools Michelle Hutchins said, “California’s youth voter registration rate reached a record 66.4% in the 2020 general election – still the lowest registration rate of any other age group. We want to reach as many students as possible and do what we can to mitigate the widespread disparities in youth voting.”