Spark student civic engagement during September High School Voter Education Weeks
Encouraging early civic engagement can increase lifelong participation
smiling student holding up a sign that reads "VOTE"
Per California Education Code, the last two weeks of September are designated as High School Voter Education Weeks, a time for teens to learn about and prepare to engage in the democratic process.

Schools are encouraged to partner with local county elections officials “to promote civic education and participation on campus and foster an environment that cultivates lifelong voters and active citizens,” according to the Secretary of State’s website.

As high schoolers return from summer break and refocus on academics and planning for life post-graduation, the department has a Back-to-School Pre-Registration Toolkit ( available to encourage eligible 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register online to vote, with their registration becoming active upon turning 18. It is a task that can easily be added to their back-to-school checklist.

The toolkit includes sample social media posts, access to related video content, and informational items including a brochure, poster and a frequently asked questions sheet.

According to a March 2023 joint letter by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and California Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber, “since the California pre-registration program launched in September 2016, over 1 million students have pre-registered to vote.”

A guidance document on the registration process is available for school administrators and teachers (

Additionally, eligible high school students ages 16 and older can serve as poll workers during election season, and, with the passage of Senate Bill 955 in 2022, students in grades 6-12 are permitted one excused absence per year to take part in a civic or political event if they give their school advance notice.

The Secretary of State’s Office also compiled a list of best practices to promote civic engagement in high schools ( Among the ideas shared by county elections offices is partnering with local educational agencies. District leaders can take the initiative to reach out to local elections officials to form a partnership.

Middle and high schools can also begin preparing to participate in the 2024 California Student Mock Election, scheduled to take place on Oct. 8, 2024.

“The Student Mock Election will stir students’ interest in voting by tapping into the excitement of the campaign and election season,” according to the Secretary of State’s website. “As students learn about the candidates and issues, they discover how government and politics affect every part of their lives. They gain firsthand knowledge of how citizens make their voices heard in our democracy and experience the power of their votes when they are joined by thousands of California students who will vote in the California Student Mock Election next year.”

Learn more about the California Student Mock Election here: