Preparing students for democracy.
Before high school graduation, every student should understand the basic principles of how government works and how to participate fully in our democracy.
The Civics Center is dedicated to building the foundations of youth civic engagement and voter participation in high schools through education, organizing, and advocacy.
We encourage student-led, peer-to-peer voter registration and preregistration efforts through direct outreach to high school communities.
Improving youth voter engagement
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia allow eligible students to pre-register to vote beginning at either age 16 or 17. If they preregister, they are automatically registered to vote when they turn 18. State laws and policies differ markedly in their approaches to youth voter registration, but in every U.S. state, young people who are otherwise eligible can register or preregister before their 18th birthday. The vast majority of high school seniors are eligible to register or preregister to vote before they graduate.
Most high schools, however, have not made it a priority to help their students take advantage of these laws. Most students graduate without registering or preregistering to vote and without understanding how to participate effectively in democracy. There is enormous room for growth and impact.
Our principal initiatives
Leading in-person and online workshops on how to plan voter registration drives and how to organize student clubs to promote voter registration
Supporting students and teachers in planning drives via guidance and supplies
Publishing research on voter preregistration and high school voter registration efforts
Advocating for programs and policies at the state, local, and school district level to encourage high school voter registration and preregistration
Raising awareness about preregistration and encouraging student efforts on social media and through our website
Organizing volunteers who support local voter registration efforts throughout the country
Laura W. Brill is an attorney in Los Angeles and a former law clerk to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She began by writing opinion pieces, teaching community leaders, communicating with teachers and other school leaders, and organizing volunteers in California.
In September 2018, The Civics Center formally became a project of Community Partners, a nonpartisan, nonprofit project of Community Partners, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Based in Los Angeles, our efforts have expanded throughout the United States.