“In California, voter suppression starts in high school”

Laura Brill oped for Cal Matters:

Today, the news about youth voting points in two opposite directions. On the one hand, young people turned out in record numbers in 2020, overcoming enormous obstacles to do so. On the other hand, a significant and persistent gap exists between youth voter registration rates and rates for older voters. This gap stifles the voice of young voters. 

Four million young people turn 18 every year, and the vast majority are eligible to register to vote before they graduate from high school. A study at USC’s Center for Inclusive Democracy recently reported an astonishing 30-percentage point gap in voter registration rates between 18- and 24-year-olds and 25- and 34-year-olds in California. The Civics Center recently reported that as of February 2021, only 11% of 16- and 17-year-olds in California are preregistered to vote. 

Gaps like these typically result from voter suppression. We’re accustomed to applying that term to Georgia, Arizona and Texas, but it’s fair to use the term to describe how our high schools here in California treat young voters, as well. If that sounds provocative, hear me out.

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