This article is 7 months old

Berkeley Vote 16 Pre-Registers Hundreds of High School Voters

During the week of December  9, Vote 16, a Berkeley student-run organization pre-registered 250 juniors to vote. Upon becoming pre-registered, students are automatically registered to vote when they turn 18. 

Vote 16 held the registration events in history classes, where members of the group walked participating students through filling out the forms required for the registration process. Each session lasted about 15 minutes. Members of Vote 16 believe these classroom visits are the most effective way of getting students to vote since guided, in-school pre-registration and registration helps increase voter turn-out by eliminating the registration barrier otherwise standing in the way of many young adults casting their ballots. Tai Henderson, a junior at BHS, felt positively about the registrations. “Registering to vote was super quick and easy especially with help in the room,” she said. Sadie Fleig, a senior in Berkeley International High School (BIHS) and a co-lead of BHS Vote 16, was very excited about the success of the pre-registration events. “These are great numbers and really encouraging to our case,” she said.  

The overarching mission of Berkeley Vote 16 is to lower the voting age to 16 starting with school board elections. There are organizations with the same mission as Vote 16 across the country.

The efforts of BHS Vote 16 were also picked up by other media outlets. NowThis News, a youth-oriented media organization, visited BHS on Thursday, December 12 to document Vote 16’s work in classrooms. Members of Vote 16 were miced and filmed while registering voters in two classes. They also participated in an interview with NowThis News representatives where they discussed their opinions about why 16 year olds should be able to vote and political involvement, among other topics. “It was incredible to have the opportunity to spread what we’ve been working on and voice our opinions,” said Fleig. 

The overarching mission of Berkeley Vote 16 is to lower the voting age to 16 starting with school board elections. There are organizations with the same mission as Vote 16 across the country. 

In Berkeley, Vote 16 has already had much success. In 2016, the organization created and passed a measure that lowered the voting age for local school board elections to 16, a small but significant step towards a wider, general lowered voting age. BHS Vote 16 is currently working on implementing the measure, with the help of the Alameda County Registrar, a hired lawyer, and Josh Daniels, a former Berkeley School Board member. The pre-registration Vote 16 conducted in classrooms goes hand in hand with the implementation of the measure. “If we can show that large numbers of young students want to vote, it will help speed up the implementation process and provide evidence that implementing the measure will be beneficial,” Fleig said. 

At BHS, roughly 325 juniors are now pre-registered to vote. Voter registrations for seniors will take place in February, in time for those of age to vote in the primary in March. 

Vote 16 member and BHS student Sylvie Love said, “It is so important to get students registered and pre-registered to vote because voting and even having the option to vote is such an important part of our democracy, and it is the easiest way to make your voice and ideas heard.”