Cottie Petrie-Norris

Student Civic and Voter Empowerment Act signed into law

Assembly Bill 963, authored by Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach), has been signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom. Over the last weeks of session, students from all over California came to advocate on behalf of AB 963, the Student Civic and Voter Empowerment Act, which will give California Universities and Colleges the necessary tools to increase civic engagement and participation in democracy among young voters.

“For these students, a comprehensive education should not end in the classroom, but extend into the real world,” said AB 963 author Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris. “We want to provide our students with the necessary tools to be engaged citizens, to shape their own political reality and create the future of the great state of California.”

During the 2014 election, only 8.2% of eligible 18-24 year olds voted. Last year, in the 2018 midterm election, that figure climbed to 27.5%. Less than one-third of our youth are voting, engaging in democracy and making their voices heard. The Student Civic and Voter Empowerment Act aims to educate, engage, and empower youth voters to ensure that our elections represent the true potential of our electorate.

California has 147 public universities and colleges with an estimated 3.1 million students, many of whom are newly-eligible voters. 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 campus-wide effort to increase civic learning and democratic participation. Civic and Voter Empowerment Coordinators will:

  • Consult with the Secretary of State to distribute campus-wide emails to all students with specified voting and election related dates and information, which will be included on all print and online academic calendars
  • Post on campus social media to remind students of voter-related dates and information
  • Facilitate three events each academic calendar year that focus on civic engagement, voter turnout and community building
  • Develop a Civic and Voter Empowerment Action Plan specific to their campus

AB 963 will become operative on January 1, 2020. This bill is supported by: A Band of Voters (Sponsor), CA Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP (Sponsor), March For Our Lives California (Sponsor), Mi Familia Vota (Sponsor), Young Invincibles (Sponsor), American Civil Liberties Union, BruinsVOTE!, CALPIRG Students, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles, Courage Campaign, Dolores Huerta Foundation, Feminist Majority Foundation, Fresno State Associated Students, Inc., Rock the Vote, Secretary of State Alex Padilla, Sunrise Movement Los Angeles, Student Debt Crisis, University of California Student Association and Women for American Values and Ethics (WAVE).

This article was released by the Office of Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris.