Teens Can Now Preregister to Vote in California, and They're Passing on Political Parties

by | March 12, 2018 AT 9:00 AM

By John Myers

California's relatively new system in which 16- and 17-year-olds can preregister to vote has been used by 88,700 teenagers during its first months in existence, with most of them declining to identify as Republicans or Democrats.

The data released by Secretary of State Alex Padilla on Thursday cover the first 18 months of a law designed to encourage teenagers to begin thinking about the voting process before they actually become eligible.

"It's just picking up as time goes on," Padilla said in an interview. "More and more young people are aware of it."

An online signup system will automatically register them to vote on their 18th birthday as long as they're a U.S. citizen and a California resident.

The largest bloc of the pre-registrations -- almost 44% -- were by teens who said they had "no party preference," California's version of an unaffiliated or independent voter. Those who wanted to be Republicans were especially few and far between, making up only 10.3% of preregistrations. Thirty-seven percent of the teenagers selected the Democratic Party.

Padilla attributed some of the uptick in preregistration to current events, including last month's mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla. high school.

"The shooting has high school students very active, aware and engaged," he said. "We've seen the numbers go up even recently."

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