Casting the Ballot: Pre-Registering to Vote


Did you know that at the age of 16, you are able to pre-register to vote in the state of California? The prospect of it seems enticing, but many are unaware of what it actually means. 

In recent years, it seems that there is a more sudden and pressing urge for teenagers to sign up to be able to voice their opinions in elections once they turn 18. Platforms like Instagram and Tiktok have been especially helpful in spreading this idea to vast audiences; one post has the capacity to reach many places. Just one search and a whole slew of videos and posts appear. Sites like Rock The Vote cater specifically to young people. Their goal is to help adolescents become involved in elections and voting.

Despite the outreach of this ‘campaign’ being prevalent and well-spread, what does this imply? What does it mean to pre-register to vote?

It’s simple and quick: visit, fill out the form for pre-registering, and then you’re done! The voting age still remains the same; you won’t be able to actually cast a ballot until you turn 18. To register in California, you must be a United States citizen and a resident of California. You also cannot be serving a prison sentence or found mentally incapacitated by a court. 

It might just be a small act, but completing all the steps to be able to vote ahead of time is beneficial in the long run. Once you turn 18, your paperwork will be processed and you’ll be allowed to vote. There isn’t any wait time; if there is an election, you are able to vote and give support to things you care about. 

In addition to it being less work when you turn 18, pre-registering means that you will soon be able to voice what you want to see in your country. Despite political affiliation, U.S. citizens have the right to vote in a way that reflects their values. 

AACT, an organization that strives to improve voter registration and voter turn out in communities across the country, along with numerous other resources, wrote an article on the importance of voting. Some of the points made were:

  • Voting affects your job: When you vote for a member of Congress, a President, a governor, or legislature, they make the decisions that affect minimum wage, pay equity, job security, etc. 
  • Voting affects your social security: The people you vote to put in office decide how much payroll tax you pay and what Medicare services you receive and share payment for.
  • If you don’t vote, someone else will: Voting only takes a short amount of time; the ripple effect caused by your vote will last beyond a candidate’s term. 

Becoming civically engaged is an optimal way to trigger the change that you want to see in the world. Pre-registering is the first step to that. It may seem minuscule and unimportant, but taking this initial step can produce outcomes that will affect you and the community around you for years to come.