Tag Archives: civic engagement

“Pupils to the Polls” Committee Vote this week

This is a somewhat interesting bill put forward by Loni Hancock, which will be brought to a vote in the Education Committee this week.  It would allow students to be excused from school to work on a precinct board during Election Day, making that work “independent study.”  Here’s how People For the American Way (which supports the proposal) describes the benefit:

Finding enough competent and reliable poll workers for California precincts (80,000 are necessary) is an enormous task for all counties. Student poll workers have proven to be vital to staffing polls throughout the state and most California counties have active student poll worker programs. However, under current law, when a student works at the polls, he or she receives an “excused absence” and the school loses state funding based on that absence. AB 466 would allow the student poll workers to be counted in their schools’ attendance figures for purposes of state funding, as long as the students complete all assignments and tests they may have missed, as well as a report on their activities as poll workers.

Anything that encourages more people to work on Election Day should be encouraged.  The average age of pollworkers can almost not be computed because the numbers are too high.  Exposing students to the inner workings of democracy (not compelling, but giving the option) is part of the civic education that all Americans ought to have.  If your Assemblymember is on the Education Committee, give them a call and ask that they support AB466.

I also would encourage your Assemblymembers to move on Election Day registration the way Iowa did this week.  EDR allows any citizen to register to vote on the day of the election.  They need to provide acceptable identification to register same-day, and then they’re in.  Every state that has implemented this has seen a massive rise in their turnout.  Right now California has a 15-day cutoff for registration.  That’s good but we should increase it.