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Secretary Of State Alex Padilla Urges Mission Bay High Students To Vote

Photo caption: California Secretary of State Alex Padilla speaks with Mission Bay High Schoo...

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla speaks with Mission Bay High School students about the importance of voting, Dec. 2, 2015.

Less than one-third of eligible Californians voted in the last election and for voters under 24, participation drops below 5 percent. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla aims to change that.

Talking with about 100 teenagers at Mission Bay High School on Wednesday, Padilla fished for enthusiasm from the students.

“We could go back to class,” Padilla joked. “Work with me here.”

Padilla admitted as a teen he wasn’t interested in voting either.

“Part of the reason I couldn’t see myself being involved in politics is because it wasn’t something I couldn’t relate to,” Padilla said.

But, a teacher helped Padilla get interested in politics.

“It wasn’t until my high school government teacher sat me down and had that talk, pulled out a registration form and wouldn’t take 'no' for an answer that I was registered," Padilla said.

The secretary also points to vitriolic rhetoric as one of the reasons young people avoid politics. A student asked Padilla about Donald Trump. Padilla said Trump was promoting a caustic political climate that is pushing many away from the polls.

“We’re hearing a lot of, in my opinion, harmful and negative rhetoric from some of the presidential candidates,” Padilla said. “I think it’s an important thing to learn from, not just to wag our fingers but to really recognize how dangerous it is.”

Padilla said many families avoid politics, like his family did, because they are ineligible to vote.

“There’s a lot of families that aren’t teaching the kids to get out and vote every November, because the parents may not be eligible,” Padilla said. “That was the case with me.”

However, Padilla said the new automatic voter registration law will inspire more and more people to make their ways to the polls. Anyone in California who applies for a driver's license will be automatically registered to vote if they are eligible.

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