The sights and sounds of California Boys State

After going virtual in 2021, like many other Boys State programs, California Boys State returned to an in-person event for the 2022 session. But some of the program tweaks necessitated by the online-only experience have carried over.

Chief among them is a change to the program’s voting system.

“In the past it was done on paper, and there was a lot of hands that saw the ballots in a process that was pretty extensive,” said Andre Quintero, one of the party counselors. “Now the results are almost instantaneous and they’re secure. … It’s a way of simulating the electronic voting possibilities in the state of California.”

Boys State citizens were able to use their electronic devices to vote for the nine statewide offices — governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, controller, treasurer, attorney general, insurance commissioner, superintendent of public instruction, and Supreme Court chief justice — on Wednesday morning and within an hour, the results were known.

The future of media. Another obvious change spurred by technological advances came in the program’s news media.

Gone is the daily printed newspaper, replaced by a video production created daily by the citizens themselves.

Video debates were also produced for the state office races, excluding the governor and lieutenant governor candidates. Those debates took place live on Tuesday night.


Guest speaker. Joining SAL National Commander Michael Fox as a guest speaker at Wednesday night’s inaugural program was John Pérez, the former California House Speaker and himself a California Boys State alum.

Pérez jokingly noted that when he was a Boys State citizen in 1986, the top movie “was something called ‘Top Gun,’” referencing the fact that the movie’s sequel is No. 1 at the box office today.

He advised the Boys Staters to learn the rules — and know how to bend them, relating a story of the 1986 Boys State election. Pérez saw that the rules stated election materials couldn’t be posted on plaster walls — but the walls were made of drywall, so the posters for his candidate went up.

He also referenced Archimedes’ quote, “Give me a place to stand, and a lever long enough, and I will move the world.”

“Boys State gives you that place to stand, a strong foundation that you can build from,” Pérez said. “Boys State also gives you an experience that is not only meaningful now, but can resonate throughout your life.”

Boys Nation

Boys Nation

At Boys State / Nation, participants learn the rights, privileges and responsibilities of franchised citizens. The training is objective and centers on the structure of city, county and state governments.

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