California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 963, the Student Civic and Voter Empowerment Act, into law yesterday. The bill, authored by Assembly member Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach), calls for historic investment to increase civic engagement among the state’s 3.1 million students enrolled at 147 public universities and colleges.
AB 963 gives these campuses the resources to designate a Civic and Voter Empowerment Coordinator, who will create a civic engagement education campaign and develop a Civic and Voter Empowerment Action Plan specific to their campus; work with the Secretary of State to send campus-wide emails, which share specified voting- and election-related dates and information, as well as to include those dates in printed and online academic calendars; disseminate civic-related dates and information through campus social media means; and organize three events each academic calendar year that focus on civic engagement, voter turnout and community building.
For California students, “a comprehensive education should not end in the classroom, but extend into the real world,” Petrie-Norris said. “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.”
The campaign for AB 963 was waged by students from across the state, much like other progressive bills that passed this session through the state legislature. The organization A Band of Voters helped to draft and introduce the bill, led by the efforts of D’Aungilligue Jackson, who is on the ABOV Student Advisory Board and is a student and VP of the NAACP at Fresno State. D’Aun lobbied and testified multiple times in support of the legislation.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and organizations like Feminist Majority Foundation, Young Invincibles, CA Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP, March For Our Lives California, Mi Familia Vota and the Students Learn Students Vote Coalition also provided support. FMF’s advocacy efforts involved summer interns Amaya Hampton, Hallie Hoch, Navdeep Sidhu, Gwynneth Tanner, India Military, Kristie-Valerie Hoang, Nicole Cohen, Emilia Kyriazis, Jennifer Marroquin and Nicole Hatzakis.
“As pillars of our democracy are threatened, through suppressive voter registration and ID laws, manipulative re-districting efforts, interference by foreign governments and more, California has fought these threats and strengthened our democracy by enacting AB 963,” Feminist Majority Foundation National Campus Organizer Carmen Liñero-Lopez said. “Empowering students to become active citizens, who vote and participate in their government will help ensure the future of our country reflects our shared values of a representative democracy and a government by and for the people.”