Newsom signs SCVEA to increase college student voter turnout

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill No. 963 (AB 963), the Student Civic and Voter Empowerment Act (SCVEA), into law Oct. 8.

The bill, written by Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Laguna Beach, requires a civic and voter empowerment cordinator on all California community colleges, California State University campuses and University of California campuses.

AB 963 stipulates a very detailed plan to increase the voter turnout among college students. 

The new Student Civic and Voter Empowerment Program will provide all state college students with information regarding voting, including but not limited to polling place locations and registration information.

The bill includes a section describing the process for upkeep on this program. The California secretary of state, Alex Padilla, is required to annually appear before the state Legislature and report any and all results of the program.

These results include “the number of students who registered as a result of the program, statistics relating to the outcome of the program and any other benefits or problems that arose for the program,” the bill states.

The new voter empowerment law provides voting assistance to 3.1 million college and university students in California.
Christina Manuel | The Poly Post

AB 963 also includes a clause that mandates an email be provided to all students of a college or university at the beginning of the semester providing information about the institution’s civic and voter empowerment coordinator and the Student Civic and Voter Empowerment Program.

The bill was backed by Young Invincibles, a non-profit organization that works to “amplify the voices of young adults in the political process and expand economic opportunity for our generation,” according to the mission statement on its website.

Young Invincibles put out a press release about SCVEA Oct. 9 regarding AB 963. 

The press release states: “Thanks to the Student Civic and Voter Empowerment Act, every campus can now give students a lifeline for questions and support about the voting process. We applaud Governor Newsom and our elected leaders in Sacramento for doing what Congress won’t: stepping up and giving young people the on-campus resources they need to hold their elected leaders accountable.”

The office of AB 963’s author, Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris released a press statement Oct. 9. 

According to the statement, the 2014 election only saw 8.2% of college-age voters at the polls. 

That number climbed to 27.5% during the 2018 midterm election. The number is still too low, and the Student Civic and Voter Empowerment Act works to educate the youth about the voting process.

“California has 147 public universities and colleges with an estimated 3.1 million students, many of whom are newly-eligible voters,” Norris writes in the press release. “AB 963 designates a civic and voter empowerment coordinator on each campus who shall convene a committee of relevant administrators, faculty members and students to develop a Civic and Voter Empowerment Action Plan for a campuswide effort to increase civic learning and democratic participation.”

As of October, it is unknown who the civic and voter empowerment coordinator will be at Cal Poly Pomona.

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