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California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
March 21, 2023

Dear County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, and High School Principals:

High School Voter Education Weeks (April 17–28, 2023)

Civic engagement will always be an ongoing learning experience. As educators, it is important to ensure that students are continuously learning how to become active and engaged participants in our democracy, and it is never too early to motivate our students to get involved. We encourage your school to participate in the 2023 High School Voter Education Weeks from April 17–28, 2023. The purpose of High School Voter Education Weeks is to bring awareness to our young and future voters and set them on the pathway for continued civic engagement.

Eligible students ages 16 and 17 can be civically engaged by pre-registering to vote. If students pre-register to vote, they will automatically become registered voters when they turn 18. Since the California pre-registration program launched in September 2016, over one million students have pre-registered to vote.

Participation is key to being civically engaged. To further increase student engagement in the democratic process, students can participate as election workers during election season. With the recent passage of Senate Bill 955 (2022), students in grades six through twelve are now able to have one excused absence per year to participate in a civic or political event (provided that the student notifies the school ahead of the absence).

The California Secretary of State’s office can provide resources, and county elections officials can serve as partners to make it easy for schools to participate in the democratic process.

Please use this list of online resources and ideas to support your school by sharing the information with your students and families:

  • To learn more about the youth programs within the California Secretary of State’s office, please visit the Secretary of State’s High School and Youth Initiatives web page at https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/high-school-programs.
  • Urge administrators, students, and parents to review the Secretary of State’s High School Voter Education Weeks section of that web page, which includes important information about voter registration and pre-registration, the California Student Mock Election, the Student Poll Worker program, and guidance for school administrators and teachers.
  • Encourage eligible students to visit the Secretary of State’s California Online Voter Registration web page at https://registertovote.ca.gov/ to register or pre-register to vote. Include the link in communications with parents and on the school website.

By working together, we can educate and encourage our young citizens to register to vote and turn out at the polls to ensure their voices are heard when they are eligible to vote.

If you have any questions about High School Voter Education Weeks or other civic engagement opportunities, please contact Jannell Jackson, Deputy Secretary of State, Outreach and Education, at SoSOutreach@sos.ca.gov or 916-584-3538, or the California Department of Education’s High School Innovations and Initiatives Office at 916-319-0893 or HSIIO@cde.ca.gov.

Sincerely,

Tony Thurmond
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D.
California Secretary of State

TT/SNW:df
Last Reviewed: Monday, August 28, 2023

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