SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) recently introduced Assembly Bill 2576 to strengthen civic engagement for high school students and increase voter registration in underperforming counties across the state.
The right to vote is one of the most important ways for Californians to exercise their political voice. However, in each statewide election in California since 1972, fewer than 60 percent of eligible voters have exercised this most basic right. In the most recent election in 2020, approximately three million people eligible to vote in California were not registered.
Unregistered eligible voters are disproportionately the most marginalized members of our communities, including the formerly incarcerated, persons at low income levels, and people of color. For many of the roughly 50,000 formerly incarcerated people whose voting rights were restored by voters by Proposition 17 in 2020, confusion still hampers their engagement.
AB 2576 creates the Civic Learning, Outreach, and Engagement Fund for the Secretary of State to provide additional support to counties with the lowest voter registration rates. It offers these counties the opportunity to conduct outreach and education catered to the unique needs of communities they serve. The bill will also increase civic education and engagement for young people.
“Assembly Bill 2576 is an important first step in transforming the promotion of democracy across the state,” commented Jesse Salinas, Yolo County’s Registrar of Voters. Salinas also highlighted the importance of expanding California’s State Seal program through AB 2576. “With California’s adoption of the State Seal of Civic Engagement in our schools, we have a unique and powerful opportunity to create new and innovative partnerships between Registrar of Voters and educators that will increase registration and voter participation among future voters for years to come.”
“Voting is the most basic right and responsibility in American life,” Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry noted. “There is no excuse in 2022 for large numbers of eligible voters to remain outside the system. We can do better. Our democracy is most vibrant, and safe, when more people participate in choosing the people who represent them. And, as we strive to include those who are eligible, we need to do a better job of exciting our young people about the opportunity to be the next generation of voters and leaders. For them, we need to make voting and community engagement an accessible habit.”
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.