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GALT_VOTERS FIRST-TIME.JPGA new proposal introduced in the California Legislature would let the state's teens cast their first ballot at age 17.

Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, has authored legislation to amend the state Constitution to allow teens who will be 18 by the time the general election arrives to vote in the primary. Twenty states already allow such voters to participate in their primaries or caucuses.

"Most young people's first contact with politics is in their mandatory high school civics class; this is the perfect time to get them engaged and give them some ownership in the process by getting them to vote in primaries," Mullin said in a statement.

Mullin's measure is one of several recently introduced proposals aimed at boosting the youth vote, which tends to break for Democrats. Democratic colleagues in the state Senate have introduced bills to allow teens to pre-register at age 15 and to require polling places on California's college and university campuses.

While Mullin says his main goal is to increase voter participation, the issue is also personal. His father, former Assemblyman Gene Mullin, attempted to pass the same bill several times in the 2000s. His father's efforts fell short of the two-thirds vote needed to put the change in front of voters. This time, Democrats have a supermajority in both chambers.

PHOTO CREDIT: First-time voter Nicole Moon, 18, fills out her ballot at the Littleton Community Center in Galt Tuesday November 4, 2008. Andy Alfaro/Sacramento Bee.


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