SACRAMENTO, CA – Assembly Bill 1036, by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), passed the Assembly Floor with a vote of 59-16. AB 1036 requires the Secretary of State to modernize outdated regulations governing county voter outreach programs and encourages the Secretary of State to provide additional support to counties with the lowest voter registration rates. This bill also establishes a High School Voter Education Pilot Program in Yolo County. The pilot allows county officials to conduct student government elections using voting machines and custom ballots in order to teach youth how to vote and encourage future voter participation.
Since 1975, county elections officials have been required to design and implement outreach programs to increase voter registration following the guidance of the Secretary of State. However, the state has never sufficiently funded or enforced these requirements. Further, the Secretary’s guidelines have never been updated, and therefore do not take into account significant changes in state elections law since then, nor updates of modern technology.
“California voter registration rates are embarrassingly low,” said Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry. “In the 16 most underperforming counties, 30 to 40 percent of eligible voters are not registered. These counties are predominantly located in rural areas and overlap heavily with marginalized communities most likely to be undercounted in the 2020 census. By registering these communities vote, we ensure fuller participation in our democracy and in the census.”
AB 1036 also establishes a High School Voter Education Pilot Program in Yolo County. In 2017, Yolo County ran the student government election at Esparto High School using official elections equipment, including custom ballots, voting machines, and polling signage. The senior students also learned how ballots are processed, counted, and certified. On “election day,” any eligible students were given the opportunity to register or pre-register to vote.
“This pilot program has inspired youth to participate in our democracy,” said Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry. “AB 1036 will help expand the pilot so that more high schools in Yolo County can benefit, as well as encourage a partnership with UC Davis to study whether this innovative voter education model should be adopted statewide.
“AB 1036 legitimatizes the work we are already doing in Yolo County,” said Jesse Salinas, Yolo County’s Chief Election Official. “This pilot gives students a positive and true election experience that will help demystify the voting process. Moreover, it has the potential to engage and increase voter participation of 18 to 24 year olds in future elections for years to come. I appreciate the Assemblymember’s support for our work and her legislative efforts to expand the impact of our work throughout the county and hopefully the state.
AB 1036 is also supported by the Voter Access Project run by students at UC Davis School of Law and the American Civil Liberties Union of California. The bill now moves to the California State Senate.
Aguiar-Curry represents the 4th Assembly District, which includes all of Lake and Napa Counties, parts of Colusa, Solano and Sonoma Counties, and all of Yolo County except West Sacramento.