SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Students at Santa Maria High School got a hands on civics lesson on Wednesday as those age 16-17 were able to pre-register to vote.
This is a new legislative initiative in the state of California created by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson.
"I think there's been a real concerted effort to make government the enemy - to talk about only the negative things that go on - but really we're a democracy. We thrive on and we're supposed to be directed by the voice of the people," Senator Jackson says.
Senator Jackson is hoping some of those future voices come from those in the crowd at Santa Maria High.
Statistically, Senator Jackson says people aged 18-24 register to vote in the lowest rate compared to any other age group in the country.
SMHS Senior Jennifer Hernandez-Mora says she was surprised the numbers are so low, telling us: "There are a lot of us - especially teenagers, high schoolers. We definitely have a voice but sometimes we think you know, when you're older, when you're an adult that's when you can actually make a change. A lot of people don't know that and I think it's awesome that they came here to let us know we can make a difference."
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla hopes this new initiative shows students the importance of their votes. "What most people don't know is that if young people registered and voted at the same rates as everybody else, they would represent the biggest block of voters not just in Santa Maria or in California - but in the country," Padilla explains.
For student Adriana Arias she says Wednesday's event was an eye opening experience, telling us: "For them to say that college tuition and costs can go down just by those votes is absolutely impressive and just to know that we can make that impact for ourselves, our communities, our state, for everyone in the world is truly impacting for us."
For those with children age 16 to 17 that want to pre-register, all you have to do is click here.