In just two weeks, Californians will participate in a historic election to decide whether to keep Gavin Newsom as governor or to recall him. As with every election, every vote is important, including the vote of young Californians. That’s why California Forward’s Young Leaders Advisory Council joined forces with the California Secretary of State’s Office to talk about the history of statewide recalls, the impact of the upcoming recall election and to urge the state’s youth to vote.
“Young people need to be a part of the conversation,” said Michael Wiafe, moderator of the Recall Rundown webinar and a member of CA FWD’s Young Leaders Advisory Council. “That starts with ensuring that our voices are at the table or in this case, the ballot box.”
In the 2020 General Election, 45.4% of California’s eligible youth voters (18–24-year-olds) cast their ballots. It’s an increase from previous elections, but it was still 20 percentage points lower than the statewide average.
Deputy Secretary of State Tamara Rasberry explained the recall process and reminded voters how important it is to cast a ballot. Because the recall election is a special election, she said, “Turnout is usually very, very low. That’s why it’s so important to get involved because you can have an officer recalled and then replaced by a new officer who will have received a small fraction of the votes.”
Wendy Galván, executive program analyst at the California Secretary of State’s Office spoke about the importance of the youth voter registration. “Voting is a habit. If begun early, it can develop lifelong voters.”
To encourage youth voter registration and voting, Krishnee Shankar, students vote project coordinator at the Secretary of State’s Office highlighted the California University and College Ballot Bowl. It’s a friendly competition among the state’s colleges and universities to increase voter registration and turnout. It debuted leading up to the 2018 elections and registered 11,000 students. For the 2020 elections, 82,000 students registered to vote through the competition.
Locally, the City of San Diego has issued a voter registration challenge with Inspire 2 Vote targeting high school students who are moving on to college and able to vote for the first time. It’s a multi-pronged approach that involves school administrators and educators to teach high school seniors about the importance of voting as well as working with youth to encourage voter registration.
“We want to make sure that those who are encouraging others to get registered to vote are young persons,” said Stephanie Estrada, a community representative from San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria’s office and a member of the Young Leaders Advisory Council. She added that the peer-to-peer contact is crucial to encourage young people to register and vote.
The results from the September 14 recall election and elections in 2022 will impact California’s youth for years to come. That’s why Rasberry urges youth voters make sure they cast their ballots, saying “This is your right and don’t let anybody take this voice away from you.”