The Gold Assembly was engulfed in a lengthy debate over AB 2183, a bill that registers public school students to vote when they turn 18 by using information already collected on these students by the Department of Education.
This legislation, debated in the first plenary session of the day, provoked strong opinions from both sides of the issue, and led many people to raise their placards to speak, though few were able to do so.
Bill sponsor Casey Fuller from the Epic-Murietta/Temecula delegation, told the legislature in his bill sponsor summation speech that, “this bill is for people who have lives that may interfere with voter registration; for whom politics might take a back seat, even if they want to have their voices heard in the elections.” He also went on to state that this bill would serve to “inspire our youth” to take part in the political process.
Delegate Michael Basave from the San Diego Super Cluster delegation spoke in favor of the bill, comparing it favorably to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.
This is popularly known as the “motor voter” law, which allows people to register to vote while applying for government assistance or a drivers license. He stated that “we need to make sure as many young people as possible are able to vote,” and that, “this is a key component of that.”
He emphasized the need for a “strong pipeline” between the Department of Education and the State of California in order to boost voter registration and participation in the state.
Matthew Beyrooti from the Newport Corona Del Mar delegation, also speaking in favor of the bill, posed a situation in which a hypothetical student decides four days before the election that he wants to to vote in it, but is unable to do so because he was too busy to register to vote.
He claimed that “[This bill] is taking out all that excess time so he can focus his time on the election and make an informed decision.”
Maddie Holczer from the Verdugo Hills delegation dissented from the previous speakers, opening with the assertion that “kids are lazy,” in direct contrast to the claim made by the sponsor that young people are too busy to register to vote. She then went on to express her belief that “Voting is a process,” and demonstrated concern that, “people will vote just because they were registered, not because they care about the election.”
Her speech was met with a number of responses from both supporters and detractors of the bill, who asked questions on topics ranging from voter apathy to voter suppression.
After an extended debate, the bill passed narrowly, although division was not called. With that, AB 2183 will go on to be voted on and debated in the Gold Senate. If it is passed there, it will go to the office of Youth Governor Trujillo, where she will decide whether or not to veto it. If signed, it will be sent to California Governor, Jerry Brown.